Southern Phone Company breaches customer privacy, ACMA finds

Details of 3854 customers published in three online directories by mistake

Southern Phone Company (SPC) failed to protect the privacy of 3854 silent line customers when uploading customer data to the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND), the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ruled.

Phone numbers, names and address details were published in three online directories between 18 March and 24 July last year.

In addition, some of the customer had their details published in paper directories. SPC notified all customers about the privacy breach and offered them a new phone number free of charge.

ACMA found that SPC contravened clause 4.6.3 of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, clause 5.12 of the IPND industry code and subsection 101 (1) of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

‘Failure by a telco provider to honour a customer’s request for a silent number is an issue that the ACMA takes very seriously, particularly given that such requests often arise from concerns over personal safety,” said ACMA chairperson Chris Chapman.

SPC's enforceable undertaking commits it to upgrading its data collection, engaging an independent auditor to review its processes, beginning an education and training program, and reporting to the ACMA.

If SPC does not meet the enforceable undertaking, it would be subject to Federal Court proceedings, said Chapman.

SPC has been approached for comment.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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