Privacy Commissioner to investigate Vodafone privacy breach

Vodafone will open its doors to the Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, in the wake of allegations the telecommunications giant made the personal information of four million customers available on its website.

In a privacy breach the telco has so far attributed to an employee or dealer, personal details including credit card numbers, home addresses and drivers licence numbers could be accessed by anyone with a Vodafone login.

A Vodafone spokesperson denied customer details were available on the internet.

“Customer information is stored on Vodafone's internal systems and accessed through a secure web portal, accessible to authorised employees and dealers via a secure login and password,” he said.

Pilgrim said in a statement that the Office of the Privacy Commissioner took allegations of privacy breaches very seriously.

“All organisations should ensure the security of their customers’ personal information or risk breaching the Privacy Act and causing serious customer dissatisfaction and possible loss of business as a result,” he said.

Pilgrim said his first step would be to determine whether Vodafone’s activities constituted a breach of the Privacy Act.

“I am concerned about the amount of personal information that may have been disclosed which could include sensitive information," Pilgrim said.

"For this reason I have opened an own motion investigation into the matter. I have spoken with the CEO of Vodafone (Nigel Dews) and he has assured me of Vodafone’s full cooperation."

He advised that if an individual believes their privacy has been interfered with they should first contact Vodafone.

“If they are not satisfied with their response they can make a complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner,” he said.

The alleged security breach follows network outages last year as a result of Vodafone's 3G network upgrade.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @hamishbarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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