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Swisscom considers legal action over stolen data

The data apparently contained information about 979 high profile customers Keystone

Switzerland's biggest telecommunications provider Swisscom is considering taking legal action against the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) following the newspaper’s publication on Friday of details regarding stolen information about its clients.

Three months earlier the NZZ had alerted Swisscom to the fact that it had received access to the information, which apparently had been stored on four stolen data files. Swisscom had filed criminal charges against persons unknown with the Bern public prosecutor’s office.

On Friday, the NZZ published further information about the data contained on the stolen tapes, saying it included the addresses, home and mobile numbers, email addresses and birthdates of 979 prominent Swisscom clients, including athletes, politicians, artists, models and business leaders.

There were also details about the telecom company’s priority programme and a table estimating prominent customers’ risk of leaving the company for a competitor.

The NZZ’s action – including the naming of several of the prominent clients – led Swisscom spokesman Carsten Roetz to say the company was considering pressing charges against the Zurich-based newspaper.

“In our view, publication of such information is not in the public’s interest” and threatened the involved persons’ rights to privacy, Roetz stated.

Roetz also confirmed on Friday that the public prosecutor’s office had put its investigation on hold, citing an inability to identify the person who had provided the NZZ with the data. One barrier to the investigation, said Roetz, was that “the NZZ has cited its right to protect the identity of its sources”.

In autumn, the NZZ had returned three of the four data bands to Swisscom, claiming that the fourth had been returned to its provider to be destroyed.

Following the newspaper’s publication of further information on Friday, Roetz said it was clear to Swisscom that the NZZ had copied the tapes and evaluated them further.

“We strongly urge these data be destroyed as well,” he said.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR