AAPT given formal warning by ACMA over customer data management

Small businesses should consider contacting their telecommunications providers to find out if their data is being taken care of in accordance with new industry regulations, the telco watchdog has warned.

The statement comes just days after the Australian Communications and Media Authority issued a formal warning to AAPT after it discovered some of the telco’s customer data was not being stored correctly.

ACMA said AAPT didn’t protect the personal information of some of its small business customers whose billing and related personal information it had collected. This data was stored in a server offsite, managed by a third party.

This data was the subject of a hacking attack last year. The internet activist group Anonymous claimed responsibility for the attack.

ACMA authority member Chris Cheah told SmartCompany this morning AAPT has “responded well” to the warning, and notes small businesses do have the ability to make sure their telco providers are up to code.

“It doesn’t hurt for a customer to ask their provider about their arrangements for protecting sensitive data,” he says.

“If they have concerns with that, they should obviously exercise their own commercial judgment. If they have more concerns they can always bring them to our attention and we can consider them.”

“So businesses need to be assured these provisions do exist and are taken very seriously.”

The telecommunications industry has been hit with a number of new regulations over the past year. A new voluntary code mandates businesses provide customers with simple bills, two-page summaries about individual products and warnings for exceeding voice or data usage.

Cheah says there have been a few high profile cases affecting major companies. He points out in the AAPT case, the company responded well, which is why the business was only given a formal warning.

“However, we will be taking a very dim view of customer service providers which do not abide by these regulations,” he says. “Customer data matters.”

AAPT was contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but no reply was available prior to publication.

 

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