Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singaporean company Singtel.
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has launched a class action complaint against Optus which claims that Optus disclosed the personal details of 50,000 customers in a privacy breach
The data breach has been discovered by Optus during a routine audit of 10 million customers in October last year.
About 40,000 of those people were new customers whose details were already breached, according to Optus.
‘The majority of the affected customers’ details were already listed with Sensis prior to joining Optus,’ an Optus spokeswoman said at the time.
Maurice Blackburn Senior Associate Elizabeth O’Shea said privacy breaches were an increasing problem as companies became increasingly entrusted with personal information.
‘When people share personal information about themselves with companies, especially large ones, they expect that data to be held securely, and for it to be used only in lawful ways,’ she said.
‘Too often we see reports of data mismanagement and it’s time for companies to be held accountable for this.’
An Optus spokesperson said the company takes privacy obligations seriously, and regularly audits its processes to makes sure customer information is safe.
‘When undertaking a review of our records against Sensis listings last year, we identified inconsistencies.
‘We requested that Sensis remove the information from their online directory and we notified all customers who may have been affected.’
The spokesperson said Optus was ‘working co-operatively with the Privacy Commissioner on this investigation’.
The matter is likely to proceed before the Privacy Commissioner.