Privacy Commissioner to examine potential breaches by Telstra

October 27, 2010 |

The Privacy Commissioner and ACMA will be investigating a botched mail out by Telstra.  The release provides:

The Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner are looking into the circumstances of a botched mail out by Telstra to its customers.

The mail out resulted in around 220,000 letters with incorrect addresses being sent to Telstra customers. The letters contained the name, phone number and telephone plan of other customers.

‘The ACMA’s main priority initially is to limit the damage to consumers caught up in this mail out and where possible to ensure remedies are quickly implemented,’ said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman.

‘I have spoken with Telstra and they have assured us they will fully co-operate with the ACMA and other regulatory agencies to minimise the fall out for customers,’ Mr Chapman said.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Mr Timothy Pilgrim, has advised that his Office will commence an investigation into the matter.

‘While I welcome Telstra’s prompt advice that this incident occurred and that it has taken steps to contact affected customers, I am concerned about the amount of personal information that has been disclosed which includes potentially sensitive information such as silent numbers,’ Mr Pilgrim said.

‘Customers expect their personal data to be protected by organisations and incidents such as this are very serious. For this reason my Office will be opening an investigation into the matter today.’

The ACMA and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner are working together to ensure a co-ordinated response.

Telstra has established a hotline for its affected customers on 1800 307 987.

‘The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network has also been in communication with ACMA and the Office of the Australian Privacy Commissioner and both agencies are working with them to assist consumers who have been affected by the mistaken mail outs,’ Mr Chapman said.

Issues around poor telco customer service have been central to the ACMA’s Reconnecting the Customer inquiry. Hearings for this inquiry are occurring in Sydney today and Melbourne on Friday, and other major centres in November. The ACMA is also working with the industry to review the telecommunications consumer code.

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