Telstra found to have breached conditions of carrier licence over 160,000 times

Telstra has been found to have breached conditions of its carrier licence on over 160,000 occasions after the details of over 140,000 telco customers who had requested unlisted numbers were made available to the public.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) delivered the findings of an investigation on Wednesday, in which it confirmed that between 2021 and 2022, the telco published 24,005 unlisted numbers, sometimes referred to as ‘silent numbers’, with corresponding customer names and addresses in the White Pages.

Telstra also included 139,402 unlisted numbers with customer details in its directory assistance database.

The company reported the incidents to ACMA in 2022 after it discovered “system issues and process failures” led to the release of the numbers.

“While we are not aware of any harm to people as a result of these breaches, Telstra failing to safeguard customer information, putting people’s privacy and safety at risk, is a serious matter,” ACMA member and consumer lead, Samantha Yorke, said.

“Telstra is entrusted with personal details of millions of Australians and those people have the right to expect that Telstra has robust systems and processes in place to ensure their information is being protected.”

Telstra has been directed to reconcile its customer data with its White Pages and directory assistance database listings every 6 months, implement a training program for staff, and have its systems and compliance procedures independently audited.

If found to have breached ACMA’s directions, Telstra “could face pecuniary penalties of up to $10 million per contravention”.

“We found this issue in 2022, immediately reported our findings to the ACMA, took corrective action and communicated with customers,” a Telstra spokesperson told Mumbrella on Wednesday.

“Since it occurred, we have significantly upgraded our systems through major software and technology improvements and we conduct regular sweeps to pick up any potential misalignments.”

The news comes just a day after Telstra announced it will be increasing the pricing of “most” of its post and prepaid services from August and October respectively, between $2 and $4 a month after it announced in May that it would be moving away from its CPI-linked annual pricing review.

Telstra CEO Vicki Brady

“These price changes help us to keep investing in mobile coverage, performance and local support, as well as ongoing investments to improve the security of our services,” the statement read.

“We monitor our network 24/7 to help protect against scams by blocking malicious calls and texts from reaching you.”

That same May announcement included the news that Telstra could “potentially see up to 2,800 roles removed” by the end of 2024 which was met with a divisive reaction by the industry.


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