Disclosure of silent numbers

Case study -privacy 

We received a number of privacy-related complaints from the customers of a telco who told us that, despite having a silent number, their details were: 
  • published in the White Pages directories, and
  • disclosed by directory services.

Others told us their caller ID blocks were removed without notice.

How we handled the issue

Each separate complaint was referred to the telco, which acknowledged the complaint and responded according to the individual impact on each customer. The telco’s responses included apologies, refunds of silent line charges and relocation assistance for those who could prove they were threatened as a result of the disclosure of their silent number.  

Through our data analysis we noted the high incidence of similar complaints about the telco over six months. Given the serious consequences of the alleged privacy breaches and the risk to some consumers’ personal safety, we raised an issue of interest with the telco. 

Provider’s response

The telco: 
  1. increased training for staff to ensure understanding of the company’s privacy obligations
  2. outlined its approach to reducing human error, including a review to identify processes that may have led to a disclosure of their customers’ personal information, and
  3. informed us about its Australian-based team that specialised in responding to serious privacy complaints in cases of domestic abuse.
Some months later, the provider demonstrated a number of ongoing projects to improve the privacy awareness of its staff, quality control and information for consumers. 

Outcome

We were satisfied with the provider’s response and the efforts it demonstrated to address its customers’ concerns. As a result, we closed the investigation.

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