ACMA slaps Southern Phone over privacy breach

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ACMA slaps Southern Phone over privacy breach

Almost 4000 customers affected.

Telecommunications reseller Southern Phone accidentally published the names, numbers and addresses of 3854 silent line customers last year, an ACMA investigation has revealed.

The communications watchdog found the company had inadvertently removed the silent number classification when it uploaded the customer data to the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) between March 18 and July 24 last year.

As a result, the personal details of some of the silent line customers ended up being published in hard copy editions of local phone directories.

ACMA decided to investigate after receiving complaints from two of the affected customers.

After discovering the breach, Southern Phone offered the affected customers a free change of number.

According to the regulator, the privacy breach contravened parts of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code, IPND Industry Code and Telecommunications Act.

Southern Phone has now entered into an enforceable undertaking (EU) with ACMA that it will upgrade its data collection, engage an independent auditor to review its processes and introduce a comprehensive training program.

Failure to comply with the EU could result in legal action against the telco in the Federal Court.

“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,” ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement.

The breach comes after a Sydney judge claimed he had been forced out of his home after Telstra published his privately listed name and address in the White Pages.

iTnews has contacted Southern Phone for comment.

ACMA itself is currently subject to a review by the government aimed at determining the future of the agency.

Earlier this month Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the review would study whether the agency was "fit for purpose" in a "rapidly changing" sector.

A report on ACMA's future is scheduled to be presented before the end of the year.

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