Lycamobile pays $604,800 over mishandling of customer data
Telecom company Lycamobile pays a $604,800 infringement notice after a prolonged and large-scale failure on handling their customer data.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has discovered that Lycamobile has been putting people in danger when it failed to provide accurate customer information to an industry database used by police, fire and ambulance services.
“Telcos have a responsibility to help keep Australians safe during natural disasters or life-threatening circumstances. Lycamobile may have put people’s lives at risk by not passing accurate information on to the IPND,” ACMA Chair O’Loughlin said.
The ACMA investigation found 245,902 instances where Lycamobile committed this offence. It also found 4,207 instances where the company failed to comply with ID check rules before signing up their prepaid mobile customers.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the Integrated Public Numbers Database (IPND) is used by emergency services when responding to Triple Zero calls from the public. Information from the IPND is also used for the Emergency Alert Service. The Emergency Alert Service was used extensively throughout the 2020 bushfires and COVID crises.
Because of Lycamobile’s failure to undertake proper customer ID checks, police investigations into criminal activity are hampered since the owner of a mobile phone cannot be identified. The company’s negligence has caused a public safety issue.
Aside from the $604,800 financial penalty, ACMA has also required Lycamobile to conduct an independent audit of its systems and processes. They also require Lycamobile to implement improvements in its systems. This is due to the serious nature of Lycamobile’s non-compliance over a lengthy period of time.
Should Lycamobile fail to comply with its customer data or pre-paid ID check obligations in the future, ACMA can commence proceedings in the Federal Court for civil penalties of up to $250,000 per contravention.
This is the latest action in ACMA’s ongoing campaign to improve the accuracy of the IPND and reduce the risk of consumer harm. In 2019 and 2020, the ACMA gave remedial directions to a number of telcos for non-compliance with IPND rules.