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Australia: ACMA fines Optus AUD 1.5 million for failing to upload customer data to public safety database

On March 6, 2023, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced that it had imposed a fine of AUD 1,501,500 (approx. $992,000) on Optus Mobile Pty Ltd (Optus) for violations of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Act) and the Industry Code Integrated Public Number Database (IPND Code), following an investigation.

Background 

The ACMA noted that it had begun an investigation after a compliance audit indicated Optus had failed to upload data to the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) via its outsourced supplier, Prvidr Pty Ltd. The ACMA explained that customer service providers are required to provide customer data to the IPND which is used to help locate people in an emergency, to warn Australians of emergencies, and to assist law enforcement activities.

Findings

Following an investigation, the ACMA found that Optus had violated Section 101(1) of the Act and Clause 4.2.1 of the IPND Code by failing to provide customer information to the IPND on 197,985 occasions between January 2021 and September 2023.

Outcomes

In light of the above, the ACMA imposed a fine of AUD 1,501,500 (approx. $992,000) on Optus and directed the company to comply with the IPND Code. In addition to the financial penalty, the ACMA accepted a court-enforceable undertaking from Optus that requires an independent review of Optus' IPND compliance where it uses a third-party data provider.

You can read the press release here, the infringement notice here, and the enforceable undertaking here.