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Fighting against Electronic White Page

Electronic White Page like any database containing information related to human being is a threat to their privacy. If you want to start a war to defend you privacy, then you might want to start with Electronic White Page. This documentation contain more information on the subject and particularly on the Belgian case.

The White Page concept

If you have a phone number, then you have at least a record in the database of your phone company. Then some of the information about you is probably printed in a White Page Book every year.

In paper form it is not yet very dangerous for your privacy. However, anybody knowing your name (and maybe knowing where you live) can pick up the phone in the middle of the night and start disturbing your live.

The Electronic danger

With Electronic White Paper, there is a bigger threat to your privacy. Now, by giving your phone number, you also give your address and maybe some other information about you like what you do for a living.

By using phone number as unique identifier of a person (or a family), it is easy to cross-check information on you, even if you give a wrong address.

If other data are published about you, then everybody may know you are a secret agent or whatever profession you are.

Then what about it in Belgium

The first crazy thing in Belgium is that you have to pay if you don't want to be in this Book. You have to ask to be in the "black list" and pay for it.

In Belgium we only have, for the moment, one phone company. Starting from January first 1998, other company will be allowed to make person to person telecommunication. BELGACOM, our Belgian phone company, is no more a public institution but is not free to do everything she want.

To control BELGACOM, but also to rule the deregulation of the Belgian telecommunication market, there is a regulator. This regulator is the IBPT (in French) which is a public institution that also rule other part of telecommunication like frequency allocation.

While there is only one phone company, there is two White Page publisher. Those publisher are "BELGACOM DIRECTORY SERVICES" and "ITT Promedia" which are recognize by the IBPT. This is possible because BELGACOM have to "give", under certain condition, it's database to a company that want to publish it. In Belgium we are not afraid to have every data in double.

In Belgium, a company did publish a White Page on CD-ROM. Now it is also available on-line on the Internet. There the trouble begin...

Our Belgian Electronic White Page

Infobel distribute a Belgian White Page on CDROM. This is far from free. I don't know how they did get the information, but there is a strange story between BELGACOM and INFOBEL on this. However, I am not sure if they got it from BELGACOM or by combining other database. So you might be on the Black List and on INFOBEL CD.

Because they want to give every Belgian a free service, they give access to there data and allow to give them your e-mail and home page. So they want to increase the database and the information they have on you and maybe one day (after your home page have been scanned for keyword) you will receive publicity in your mail-box.

Here you can try for yourself the INFOBEL database:

Phone Number     or 

Enter a Belgian full phone number (like "02-650 21 11") and Click on Search

It's important to notice that, to my knowledge, INFOBEL do not receive any data from BELGACOM and is not recognize by the I.B.P.T.

Then, because there is a market, ITT Promedia and Belgacom Directory Services did also publish the White Page on CD-ROM. What is funny is that those data are the same and they have to add value to those data to make them valuable (the same goes for the paper edition).

An other company, Belgium Ad Valvas started the problem the other way. INFOBEL ask you for your e-mail and home page. Belgium Ad Valvas make an on-line White Page and Yellow Page of Belgian People and Company on the net. You are asked to register and to give data about yourself.

What to do in Belgium

The first thing to change in Belgium is the Belgacom rule for the Black List. It should be free to be on the Black List and your personal information shouldn't be given (along with your phone number) to the White Page publisher without your written consent. BELGACOM is responsible for the distribution of it's client information and is the one who want you to pay to be on the Black List. But maybe it is the I.B.P.T. that is responsible because it is our Regulator for the telecommunication.

Maybe you should contact those organization and tell them what you think of the White Page issue and moreover the Electronic White Page. You can also contact la Commission de la protection de la vie privée and tell them your address and phone number is your private live.

To protect yourself from Infobel, please read the following from their home page:

Le traitement de ces données est inscrit dans un registre public de traitements automatisés de données à caractère personnel sous le numéro 000012074. Si vous désirez de plus amples informations à ce sujet, vous pouvez vous adresser à la Commission de la protection de la vie privée, rue de la Régence, 61, 1000 Bruxelles.
Vous pouvez vous soustraire de cette base de données en envoyant un e-mail à kapitol@infobel.be.

De verwerking van deze gegevens is opgenomen in een openbaar register van geautomatiseerde verwerkingen van persoonsgegevens onder het nummer 000012074. Indien u meer inlichtingen wenst hierover, kunt u zich wenden tot de Commissie voor de bescherming van de persoonlijke levensfeer, Regentschapsstraat 61, 1000 Brussel.
U kunt uw gegevens uit deze databank laten verwijderen door een e-mail te zenden naar kapitol@infobel.be.

Of course you can do the same for almost every database that do have personal information on you.

Belgian Address Book on this subject:

  • ITT Promedia
    Antwerp Tower
    De Keyserlei 5 Bus 7
    2018 Antwerpen
    Belgium
    Tel: 32 3 205 42 11
    Fax: 32 3 205 42 22
  • BELGACOM
  • BELGACOM DIRECTORY SERVICES
    Service Clientèle
    Rue du planeur 6
    1130 Bruxelles
    Belgium
    Tel: 32 2 702 70 70
    Fax: 32 2 702 72 72
  • L'Institut Belge des services Postaux et de Télécommunications - I.B.P.T.
    Avenue de l'Astronomie 14 boîte 21
    B-1210 Bruxelles
    Belgium
    Tel: 32 2 226 88 88
    Fax: 32 2 226 88 77
  • Commission de la protection de la vie privée
    Rue de la Régence 61
    1000 Bruxelles
    Begium
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Content last updated: Thu Jan 31, 2002.
This file generated: Fri Apr 26 12:17:36 CEST 2002 .