Optus targeted in massive class action case
Australia's second-biggest telco is now the subject of a class-action lawsuit the law firm bringing it says will be "an important test of Australia's privacy laws".
The class-action stems from Optus allegedly revealing the personal information of 50,000 customers, including their home addresses.
Optus revealed the breach in October last year.
Corporations that disclose personal information they're not supposed to face fines under the Privacy Act.
According to Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, it will be the first time a class action using the Act has been brought on behalf of customers seeking compensation.
The class action alleges Optus failed to meet its duty to customers by disclosing their personal information that was originally collected for another purpose, including through placing their information in phone directories, which the firm said customers didn't consent to.
The action also alleges the telco failed to take the proper steps to protect its customers' privacy.
Maurice Blackburn senior associate Elizabeth O'Shea said privacy breaches were an increasing problem as companies collected more and more information.
"When people share personal information about themselves with companies, especially large ones, they expect that data to be held securely and for it to be used only in lawful ways," Ms O'Shea said.
"Too often we see reports of data mismanagement, and it's time for companies to be held accountable for this. Bad practices in data management can have real-world consequences for people, and to make companies understand that, we will need to start taking them to court," she added.
Ms O'Shea said class actions were an essential legal mechanism that allowed consumers to be compensated when their trust in a corporation was betrayed.
"Indeed, a functioning class-actions system is a deterrent to corporate malfeasance and signals to both investors and consumers wrongdoing comes at a price, bolstering confidence in the market. It also counterbalances the power of large companies and allows wronged consumers to take them on."
Affected Optus customers can register for the class action by emailing optusclassaction@mauriceblackburn or calling 1800 318 061.
Optus has been contacted for comment.