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Updated: Information wants to be 3: 80,000 mystery names and addresses posted on Web

A consumer blog is reporting that nearly 80,000 mystery names and addresses were earlier posted at 3 Mobile Web site -- but who were they?

UK consumer news and hacks blog Bitterwallet is reporting that a reader has stumbled upon 80,000 names and addresses of mysterious origin on the Web site of mobile phone network 3.

The intrepid reader, known only as 'Dan', reportedly found the list with no more than a little clicking around. Bitterwallet found the list and let 3 know, and it has now been removed. Names and addresses of 79,035 people were available to anyone with enough curiosity to mildly sprain a cat -- by simply investigating the source of an image in a mailing list email from 3 -- but it's not clear how long this outrageous loophole was open to exploit.

On the face of it, a list of names and addresses isn't all that confidential, but it's all an identity thief needs to get started. And it's sweet of 3 to compile the data into handy list form. It's lucky Dan was a just nosy fella with a sense of public duty -- enough to email a consumer blog, anyway -- rather than a rapacious identity tea-leaf.

Update: In our original version of this story, we stated that the list consisted of customer details. 3 has now released an official statement, making clear to us that the information definitely isn't a list of customers: "Less than 5 per cent of names in the list are 3 customers according to our initial investigations".

Worryingly, 3 can't tell us who these people actually are. If they aren't customers, who are they, why does 3 have their details, and why are they being posted for the world to see? Are they employees? Former customers? Some kind of blacklist for when 3 takes over the world? What's gone from being another eye-rolling 'here we go, some twonk's left a disk of data on a train/in the back of a cab/tucked in a lap-dancer's cleavage'-type story is turning into something more worrying. The plot thickens...

Final update: 3 has come back to us and confirmed that this was in fact a marketing list. Oh well, that's all right then.