Telstra hit by second privacy scare in weeks as social networking details are leaked

Telco giant Telstra has been embroiled in another privacy scandal, after users were able to view social networking alerts meant for others due to a technical error.

The blunder comes just weeks after Telstra was targeted by the Australian Communications and Media Authority after it sent over 220,000 letters with the wrong addresses attached, thereby revealing the private deals of other customers.

Telstra spokesperson Kristen Boschma wrote in a blog post the error affected users of the Tribe software, which aggregates different social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and MySpace accounts.

Boschma wrote on the blog that for a time, users’ social networking sites could be accessed by different users altogether.

“Tribe gives you access to a number of social media sites in the one place – Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Tribe also provides free SMS alerts if there is activity in any of your registered social networks.”

“We found a fault in the security for our Tribe service. Some customers’ pages could be accessed by other customers. We discovered instances where customers would have had the ability to access other customers’ Tribe accounts.”

In some cases, Middleton says the telco even received complaints from users that they had received “alerts” meant for other people.

“We suspended Tribe for a couple of days while we fixed it. It’s now back up and working like it’s meant to and we’ve already tried calling most affected customers directly. We’re continuing to contact all remaining affected customers.”

The incident comes just after the company was slammed for sending 220,000 letters with wrong addresses to customers. At the time, both ACMA and the Privacy Commissioner said they would conduct investigations.

The trouble also comes at a time when social networks are being scrutinised for their privacy controls, with Facebook having been the target of several investigations worldwide. The site has been forced to amend its privacy controls.

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