Telstra has paid a $2.5 million penalty for failing to upload information about whether a customer wanted an unlisted or silent phone number to a central industry-wide database.
The penalty was levied by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and is said to be the largest fine of its type.
The ACMA said almost 50,000 customer choices under the Telstra brand and over 65,000 under its Belong sub-brand were not recorded in the integrated public number database (IPND).
ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that by failing to provide the required information to the IPND, Telstra potentially put people’s safety at risk.
“When people request a silent number it is often for very important privacy and safety reasons, and we know that the publication of their details can have serious consequences,” she said.
O’Loughlin added the IPND is “also used by Triple Zero to help locate people in an emergency, for the Emergency Alert Service to warn of emergencies like flood or bushfire, and to assist law enforcement activities.”
“The provision of these critical services can be hampered and lives put in danger if data is missing, wrong or out of date,” she said.
“It is alarming that Telstra could get this so wrong on such a large scale.”
Telstra self-reported the breaches “and moved quickly to fix them,” the ACMA said. However, the telco was still fined because it had “breached the same obligations” back in 2019.
A Telstra spokesperson said the telco hadn't met its "own high expectations or those of our customers".
"We self-reported these issues to ACMA and took steps to correct them," the spokesperson said.
"We accept the ACMA findings and have paid the infringement notice."