We have recently discovered that information held by Telstra/Sensis relating to our phones is accessible by other entities approved by the Australian Communications and Marketing Authority for specific purposes. This includes bodies whose functions at least partly include to provide directory assistance, print telephone directories or for research purposes. Also, various carriage service providers (ie the providers of telephone services who provide their own directory assistance) have access to this data. For example, the following websites are just some that offer information including details relating to phones that you might have:
• Veda Advantage at http://pnd.vedaadvantage.com/Residential.aspx
• FCS On Line at http://www.fcsonline.com.au/Public-Directory-33.html
• Acceleon at http://www.acceleon.com.au/
In our case, we have a suppressed address (a bit like a silent number but only the address is not publicly available). We also have mobile phones but any details relating to our phones should not be publicly available.
It would now appear that, as a result of various unrelated errors by our carriage service provider (Transact), Telstra/Sensis and possibly even some or all of the bodies approved by ACMA to access data held by Telstra/Sensis, our address for our landline and details for one of our mobile phones has been publicly available through one or more of these bodies. I have also checked mobile phone numbers for others I know and in at least one case, the mobile phone number and home address is publicly available from several bodies without that person’s authority. If you think your mobile phone details or silent number etc is not publicly available you might want to check Sensis’ whitepages on line or these other websites as a start. Perhaps you might like to post back here if you’re surprised at what you find.
This also has got me thinking what other areas are potential breaches of privacy that we don’t even know about? Obviously Facebook is a classic example as they continually revise their policy of what on Facebook becomes publicly available. I also searched RiotAct and saw these posts:
• http://the-riotact.com/actewagl-and-transact-part-company/46633; and
I for one would be interested to know what other privacy risks exist out there or how to identify and control them. Obviously we have complained to the Privacy Commissioner this time but we are still discovering the extent of the various and seemingly unrelated breaches that have occurred in our case.