Optus Investigated for White Pages Privacy Breach

Regulators have opened an investigation into Optus for potential breaches of privacy law, following an incident in which the phone company accidentally sent out the contact details of thousands of customers to be posted in the directory of white pages against their will.

In October 2019, Optus contacted nearly 50,000 customers to inform them of the privacy breach, claiming it mistakenly disclosed details including names, addresses and cell phone numbers to Sensis, the company that produces blank pages.

Contact details of Optus customers have been published in the White Pages without their consent.Credit:Viki Lascaris

At the time, Optus apologized and asked Sensis to remove customer information from its online directory, but many details were also printed in the physical editions.

This week, Australia’s Information Commissioner’s Office said it was investigating the issue and its potential privacy ramifications after already conducting investigations.

“Public disclosure of personal information against the will of individuals may have the potential to cause harm,” the OAIC wrote in announcing the investigation.

“CATO investigations can determine whether such questions involve systematic problems that can be avoided by ensuring that good practices are in place. “


The action follows a similar incident in 2014 that saw details of more than 100,000 Optus customers published in the White Pages without their consent. In response to this incident and others, in 2015, CATO asked Optus to undertake independent reviews of its procedures.

In accordance with CATO policy, she does not comment further on the matter while the investigation is ongoing.

Calvin W. Soper

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