Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 21/2/2005I'm not Paris Hilton. Following the court case, I'm not even allowed in the same city.

Monday 21/2/2005

I'm not Paris Hilton. Following the court case, I'm not even allowed in the same city. But I do have some sympathy for the woman, following today's startling revelations that her Sidekick has been hacked and its contents dispersed to the cyberwolves. The natural response is: 'Oh yeah?' When you're famous for being famous, shocking revelations of a personal nature aren't so much accidents as designed by committee. But as the story wore on, it seemed to check out. Whether it was naff security on the lady's gizmo or the recent well-publicised hacks on T-Mobile's servers, there's no doubt it could have happened.

A compromised mobile may just be the most embarrassing faux pas of the modern age. If you lose your wallet or get your cards nicked, then there's the tedium of contacting the plod, cancelling the cards and bumming drinks off pals until the replacement plastic appears. Tiresome, but acceptable. If you're famous and get your phone opened, you've got to call all your pals in time to warn them that they're about to get more crank calls than the Jerry Springer Opera Company. Expect those conversations to be frosty.

But that's not why I'm prepared to take a stand for Ms Hilton. She has survived a little social awkwardness before now. No, the real reason is Andrew Orlowski, 'im off The Register. He was among the happy gang of UK journos at 3GSM last week -- an event that coincided with his birthday. There was talk of celebration: a time and place were cobbled together and texted around.

I, another journo and a PR flack duly turned up at the when and where. No Orlowski (no surprise either, this is a man who has made a career out of being so hard to find even his editors aren't always sure what planet he's on). We wait for a while, but the patented Orlowski Gangle is nowhere to be seen. So, I try to call him -- voicemail. "He's probably with John Lettice," I say, more in faith than hope, and I try the Letticeline. Aha -- a recent sighting, and a recommendation for further inquiries. A few calls around the disreputable company of Brit Hack, and the man himself is tracked down.

As I'm putting the phone away, I catch the PR eyeing it up, like a small boy calculating the chance of hoofing it out of the newsagent with the sherbet fountain before the shopkeeper can get over the counter. "Do you know what I could get for that list of numbers?" he said. I'd never considered datamining my address book before, let alone leasing it out as a subscription list, but this is probably why I'll die in a cardboard box somewhere while my friends consider the tax advantages of a second yacht. Mobile security suddenly became a lot more interesting, as did the possibility of encoding an Enigma emulator on my little Sendo.

But there's also the chance of ready cash. Just in case, I'm already writing the auction blurb for eBay -- and the side effects may be worth it on their own. There are some numbers on that phone for people who have dropped out of my life, as much to flash up their names if they try and call me as for any other reason, and the thought of some of them getting non-stop spam from companies trying to pitch a storage story is rather palatable.

I'd best delete Paris' number first, though. Poor woman's been through enough.

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