What personal cellphone data is stored by your provider

Mobile networks store some of the location information reported by your cellphone for 3 – 5 years to comply with RICA, Vodacom said in response to questions by MyBroadband.

This location data is needed by cellular carriers to provide GSM services, Vodacom said.

Vodacom explained that typically a cellphone’s location is available on call data records (CDRs) for 6 months, after which it is deleted.

However, some of information on the CDRs, including location-based information for each call, is copied to a secure database set up in terms of RICA.

This data is kept for the period described in the RICA Act, which Vodacom said is 3 – 5 years depending on the type of data in question.

The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) was gazetted in 2003 and, after a number of extensions, service providers finally had to fully implement it by June 2011.

Cellphone location-based services
Cellphone location-based services

Asked how securely the information is stored, Vodacom said that data for RICA purposes is stored in a secure environment that complies to the Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS) specified by government.

Compliance to the MISS is audited annually, Vodacom said.

Internet usage tracking

When it comes to web browsing, Vodacom said that it does not store the IP or URL of sites or services subscribers might connect to.

However, this information may exist for short periods in log files of network elements such as proxy servers or firewalls, Vodacom added.

8ta, Cell C, and MTN were asked for their input on this issue, but they did not respond by the time of publication.

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What personal cellphone data is stored by your provider