Optus is facing a class action lawsuit over the mistaken publication of 50,000 customers’ details in phone directories, which the telco disclosed late last year.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers filed the complaint and said it is “the first class action against a telco seeking compensation for a breach of privacy.”
“In what is an important test of Australia’s privacy laws, the class action is expected to seek compensation for affected customers,” the law firm said.
Optus chose to notify customers of the breach via snail mail, saying their name, address and phone number was mistakenly sent to Sensis and published in online (and potentially print) versions of its directories.
The telco attributed the data breach to a “system error”.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers said that under the Privacy Act, corporations which disclose personal details of clients “face penalties including fines.”
“But until now no class action using the Act has been brought on behalf of customers seeking compensation,” it said.
“Under the Act, consumers may be compensated for privacy breaches.”
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Elizabeth O’Shea said class actions were “an essential legal mechanism which allowed consumers to seek for corporate wrong-doing.”
An Optus spokesperson said the telco "is working co-operatively with the Privacy Commissioner on this investigation."