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Optus 'Mistakenly' Publishes Private Numbers Online And In White Pages

Optus has been forced to apologise to its customers after it shared names, phone numbers and addresses of people who are privately listed.

Telecommunications provider Optus has confirmed that some of its customer's private details have been made public -- online and in print.

"During a recent audit, Optus discovered a system error that resulted in some customers having their details being released inadvertently to Sensis (White Pages)," the telco told 10 daily in a statement.

Optus refused to divulge just how many of its customers are affected.

"As a priority, Optus arranged for Sensis to remove customer details from their online website directory, operator-directory assistance and any future printed editions of directories."

A screenshot of the letter Optus sent to customers.

This means nothing can be done about private details that were printed in current or previous editions of the White Pages.

Optus said it has contacted all customers affected with an apology and an outline of how they rectified the situation. But some customers have since complained on Facebook about having trouble following the instructions provided.

IMAGE: supplied

New laws introduced by the federal government in early 2018 require mandatory data breach reporting for businesses, government agencies and non-profits with an annual turnover of at least $3 million.

Companies are given 30 days to notify individuals affected and to inform the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC).

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In March 2015 Optus admitted to three data breaches affecting more than 300,000 customers.

In one of the breaches, a coding error made during changes to Optus' website in February 2013 resulted in the names, addresses and mobile phone numbers of 122,000 customers who had elected to remain unlisted from the White Pages to be published in the online directory without their consent.

In a candid admission on its website, Optus Vice President of Enterprise and Government, David Caspari said it is hard to keep data safe.

"Unfortunately, there is no single application or method to completely guarantee your data’s safety."

Consumers who are concerned about their data being breached, and have not reached a resolution with the company, can make a complaint to the OAIC here.

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au