Information Overboard!

Off-shore call centres scandal sparks move for major reforms

A scandal involving massive privacy breaches of Australian companies with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, has sparked moves for a major overhaul of privacy laws and personal accountability of company directors.

The details were revealed in an investigative report published by Fairfax that found: “Corrupt insiders at offshore call centres are offering the private details of Australian customers of Optus, Telstra and Vodafone for sale to anyone prepared to pay.”

NXT Senators Nick Xenophon and Stirling Griff (Communications spokesperson for the team, and a former telecommunications business owner) have called for a series of reforms and remedies including:

1. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone to notify all their customers of the privacy breaches and the ramifications on a voluntary basis, ahead of legislation mandating disclosure currently before parliament

2. Directors of companies to face prosecution and fines if they fail to have robust and comprehensive systems in place to protect against privacy breaches

3. Making compensation payable for breaches, without the current requirement to prove actual damage for customers whose privacy has been breached

4. A requirement for Australian customers of companies based in Australia – such as Telcos, banks and utilities – to provide written consent before their information can be sent overseas.

Senators Xenophon and Griff have also called for a review of maximum civil penalties which are currently up to $1.7 million for companies and $340,000 for individuals.

“This latest scandal shows how vulnerable Australians are to their privacy being trashed by their personal details and data being sent overseas,” said Nick.

“There needs to be strong penalties in place on company directors to ensure they have done everything reasonably practical to prevent these privacy breaches in the first place,” said Stirling.

  • Call for company directors to be personally liable for offshoring privacy breaches
  • Move to increase fines for breaches, and for victims to claim compensation
  • Australians should give written consent before their information goes overseas

In the banking and financial services sector alone, it is believed well over 7,000 jobs have been lost to cheaper overseas labour where customers’ personal details have been offshored including: phone numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, passport numbers, wages and salary details, assets and liabilities, marital status, employment histories and pins.

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

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