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Is your privacy protected???

By Innovation - 17 August 2011 7

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
• http://the-riotact.com/privacy-if-youre-important-enough-on-google-street-view/28594.

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.

What’s Your opinion?


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7 Responses to
Is your privacy protected???
Lookout Smithers 5:08 pm 17 Aug 11

harvyk1 said :

Lookout Smithers said :

If my details are sold, stolen, passed around. Its to my benefit. I have nothing anyone would would profit from and it could be useful to use as an excuse for something that I should have been responsible about. Like parking fine.

Unless they taken out tens of thousands of dollars in debt under your name. Technically you’d be liable for the debt, or at least liable to prove it was not you.

I think the OP is just a little paranoid, as mobile numbers \ addresses \ names can be easily obtained, furthermore if they’d bothered reading any of the contracts which they have no doubt signed (because Veda Advantage know about them) they would know that companies are permitted to pass details onto others in order to provide goods \ services.

Furthermore, who is to say it was not one of their friends who inadvertantly passed on the OP’s details without thinking about it. No doubt if you have a mobile number your not the only person in the world who knows what it is.

Well if that were to happen then liability would just equate to a statutory declaration filled out and filed. Worst case bankruptcy filed. Either way it makes no difference to my life. If someone wants to find you, its pretty easy to do even as just a regular citizen. These things should not bother you !!

Innovation 4:46 pm 17 Aug 11

#2 PBO – It is not all mobile phone numbers and it is not just Veda that seems to be publicly disclosing info obtained from Telstra/Sensis which is not in the white pages. Veda and FCS On Line do know about it because I have told them although I don’t think they realise that the fault is as widespread as I suspect. The potentially several other companies that have access to Telstra/Sensis data and make it publicly available don’t yet know about it because I can’t get access to the data that they extracted from Telstra/Sensis in the first place.

#4 HarvyK1
First, no-one other than my immediate family has my mobile number as I only use it for emergency purposes.
Second, the directories in the links above are supposed to be only data that has been obtained from Telstra/Sensis only for the purposes approved by ACMA (ie, in this case, directory assistance). Details for mobile phones are only supposed to be published on any of those sites if the owner requests it. If Veda and others has obtained personal data from other sources and hold it elsewhere (ie for maintaining credit history details or debt collection purposes) that is another matter.
Third, if you know of other places where this personal information might be publicly available without the relevant person’s agreement or knowledge, post it here. That’s one of the reasons why I started this thread.
Fourth, Even if I am paranoid, are you saying that no-one has a right to protect their privacy? I agree that people can find you if they really want to but why should you make their job easy for them?

#5 aceofspades – Apparently there are two databases maintained by Telstra/Sensis. I have no problems with data being provided to emergency services, law enforcement or national security. What I am objecting to is unauthorised data that has been illegally given to other bodies such as for directory assistance, printed directories and research purposes.

aceofspades 3:32 pm 17 Aug 11

I work for a telecommunications company and am responsible for the providing of data to both Telstra (IPND manager) and Sensis. We are required by law to provide all data to IPND mainly for use by emergency services, ie when 000 is dialled from a phone. Law enforcement agencies also have access to this data but telecommunication companies do not. Sensis also accept a similar file but only customers requesting their numbers to be listed or silenced are included in the file. Both files have a “list code” for each record that must be one of “Listed Entry”, “Suppressed Address” or “Silent Listing”. Your telecommunications company is able to keep your privacy from the general public but not from emergency services or law enforcement agencies.

harvyk1 2:47 pm 17 Aug 11

Lookout Smithers said :

If my details are sold, stolen, passed around. Its to my benefit. I have nothing anyone would would profit from and it could be useful to use as an excuse for something that I should have been responsible about. Like parking fine.

Unless they taken out tens of thousands of dollars in debt under your name. Technically you’d be liable for the debt, or at least liable to prove it was not you.

I think the OP is just a little paranoid, as mobile numbers \ addresses \ names can be easily obtained, furthermore if they’d bothered reading any of the contracts which they have no doubt signed (because Veda Advantage know about them) they would know that companies are permitted to pass details onto others in order to provide goods \ services.

Furthermore, who is to say it was not one of their friends who inadvertantly passed on the OP’s details without thinking about it. No doubt if you have a mobile number your not the only person in the world who knows what it is.

Lookout Smithers 12:06 pm 17 Aug 11

If my details are sold, stolen, passed around. Its to my benefit. I have nothing anyone would would profit from and it could be useful to use as an excuse for something that I should have been responsible about. Like parking fine.

PBO 11:56 am 17 Aug 11

I have just contacted Veda and they were not aware of it.

Innovation 11:31 am 17 Aug 11

This morning I found another person’s mobile phone number and address on the Veda Phone Directory and FCS On Line Directory websites and I’m pretty sure that person doesn’t want their details exposed especially since it’s not in the White Pages on Line also.

Also, I read this thread today http://the-riotact.com/ourtel-aggressive-telemarketing/38609. If you are wondering where people are getting your details from to contact you this may well be it…..

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