Telstra Breached Licence By Publicising Over 140,000 Unlisted Numbers, ACMA Finds

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found Telstra Limited breached its carrier licence conditions over 163,000 times after unlisted numbers of more than 140,000 customers were made public.

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An investigation launched by the ACMA has revealed that Telstra published 24,005 unlisted numbers, also known as ‘silent numbers,’ along with customer names and addresses in the White Pages. 

Additionally, 139,402 unlisted numbers were included in Telstra’s directory assistance database, which is used by operators for services such as Call Connect and Directory Assistance. 

Most breaches occurred between 2021 and 2022, with some customers’ details appearing in both databases.

ACMA member Samantha Yorke criticised Telstra for failing to safeguard customer information.

“Putting people’s privacy and safety at risk is a serious matter,” she 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.”

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Telstra reported the incidents to the ACMA after identifying system issues and process failures. 

In response, the ACMA has issued a remedial direction requiring Telstra to take actions to comply with obligations not to disclose or misuse unlisted number information. 

Telstra must reconcile its customer data with White Pages and directory assistance listings every six months, implement a staff training program, and have its systems and compliance procedures independently audited. 

If Telstra breaches the direction, the ACMA may pursue civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court, where Telstra could face fines of up to $10 million per contravention.

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