Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Telstra admits to another privacy breach

Telstra has admitted to breaching the privacy of some of its customers only after being contacted by this website. "Most, if not all, affected customers (less than 3000) have been rung over the past week or so," said Telstra spokesman Craig Middleton.

Those affected were using Telstra's Tribe service, a platform which aggregates social media including Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Some customers' social networking sites that were accessed using Tribe could be accessed by other Tribe customers, Telstra said.

After being contacted by this website, Telstra published a blog post announcing the breach. "This is just so that people who read [the] story can find out info from us," Mr Middleton said

Telstra recently came under fire for being investigated by both the communications and privacy watchdogs after it sent out 220,000 letters that contained account information belonging to other customers.

It also came under fire in April, when technology website ZDNet Australia reported it breaching the privacy of 700 customers.
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"I’m accountable for Telstra’s approach to social media and all that goes with it. The good, the bad and the downright unfortunate," said Telstra's Kristen Boschma in the blog post.

"So I need to tell you something went awry with a service we offer called Tribe," she said. "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 a couple of cases we were also contacted by customers to say that they received a Tribe alert meant for another user.

"To Telstra it is unacceptable that a customer’s privacy might be breached."

Boschma said Telstra has taken "direct and immediate action" to rectify the problem. "We suspended Tribe for a couple of days while we fixed it," she said. "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. "Sorry for any inconvenience, this is not want we want for our customers but I’m glad the service has been restored."


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Phone and internet users lodged millions of complaints in 2010

As the big gorilla of the industry, Telstra would be responsible for most of these

MILLIONS of angry phone and internet users with hang ups about their providers are struggling to get problems fixed, new research claims.

A staggering one in two customers have had a telco gripe in the past year, a survey has found. And one in three who experienced a problem - equivalent to 2.3 million Australians - were unhappy with how their complaint was handled, according to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network.

Technical glitches, sloppy customer service, billing and complaint resolution topped nominated telco problems. A huge spike in complaints to the industry ombudsman has triggered a major federal inquiry that is due to report in early 2011.

But ACCAN policy director Elissa Freeman said the record 230,000 annual complaints that sparked the probe were just the tip of the iceberg. Ms Freeman said most frustrated consumers gave up on taking unresolved woes further.

Communications Alliance chief John Stanton said the industry was working hard to improve customer service, and was revising consumer protections. Mr Stanton said complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman fell 23 per cent last financial year after a peak a year earlier.

The New Galaxy research commissioned by ACCAN polled 1100 people early this month.

ACCAN is pushing for new mandatory standards to force telcos to respond to customer complaints sooner, reduce call waiting times, and help customers in financial hardship.

Upset customers who have made submissions to the Australian Communications and Media Authority inquiry include a businesswoman who said her Telstra number was shut down and given away because of an ``inexplicable error".

She then reportedly spent one to two hours on the line and was repeatedly transferred to different operators in a vain attempt for assistance.