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Shanghai Surprise: More On Private Data Flowing Overseas

Call on Privacy Commissioner to urgently investigate reports of local mobile phones having data secretly sent to China

Senator Stirling Griff has today written to the Privacy Commissioner calling for an urgent investigation into reports that tens of thousands of Australian pre-paid mobile phones may have been automatically transmitting sensitive data to a Chinese company, located in Shanghai, without the phone users’ consent.

Senator Griff has also called on Telstra, which has partnered with Huawei and ZTE, to give a “full explanation” to customers as to whether several of their branded Android phone models have been involved in any privacy breach.

Reports from the New York Times and respected technology website ChannelNews state that the data of customers of Telstra branded phones include location information, the full body of text messages, contact lists and call history. Text messages and call logs are reportedly being transmitted every 72 hours and other data every 24 hours.

“These revelations, if correct, are a stunning breach of privacy that requires immediate action by the Privacy Commission. Telstra needs to either guarantee this has not happened, or if it has, notify all customers and compensate them for such a gross breach of privacy,” Senator Griff said.

Senator Griff has also asked the Privacy Commissioner to investigate whether any other Telco carriers in Australia have sold the Android phones in question.

The move by Senator Griff, Communications spokesperson for NXT, follows his call yesterday with his colleague Nick Xenophon for sweeping reforms to the offshoring of data overseas, following the Indian call centre scandals revealed by Fairfax yesterday. For a link to yesterday’s media release ‘Information Overboard’ click here.

Senator Xenophon said “this latest revelation highlights the need for much tougher safeguards for data breaches and penalties, and for compensation mechanisms to be put in place to ensure companies do everything possible to prevent their customers’ data and privacy being compromised.”

For further details please contact (preferably via text) Stirling Griff on 0413 999 100 or Nick Xenophon on 0411 626 677.

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