Telstra, Australia’s largest telecom and media company, has been ordered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) to recompense a family judge with AU$18,000 and an apology after it failed to inform him of having published his details in the White Pages directory and in print through its Sensis subsidiary.

The judge had incorporated the services of Telstra, in April last year to have a phone line integrated with an alarm system installed primarily because he frequently received threat calls. In September the same year, having found out of the leak, the judge lodged a complaint with OAIC.

Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, held Telstra guilty of violating the National Privacy Principle (NPP) 1.3 and NPP 2.1 of the Privacy Act.

“In awarding compensation, I am guided by the impact of the privacy breach on the complainant,” explained Mr. Pilgrim in the determination document. “His concerns for his and his partner’s safety arising directly out of the privacy breach have led him to apply to move interstate away from family and friends. His application for transfer demonstrates the severity of the stress that the disclosure has caused the complainant.

“I accept that Telstra’s failure to take reasonable steps to notify the complainant that his personal information would be published in the White Pages has caused the complainant significant distress and anxiety associated with legitimate fears for his and his partner’s physical safety,” he added.

Although Telstra refuses to acknowledge the breach, citing the company’s own regulations and declarations, it has stopped the use of Right Now software platform on which the data breach incident occurred and also pledged to establish a policy for central software management, and review contracts with third parties relating to personal information-handling, reports ZD Net.

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(Image Credit: Horia Varlan)

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