Australia unveils privacy rule changes after Optus data breach

FILE PHOTO: A woman uses her mobile phone as she walks past in front of an Optus shop in Sydney, Australia, February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia on Thursday proposed an overhaul of consumer privacy rules that will help facilitate targeted data sharing between telecommunication firms and banks following a massive data breach at Optus, the country's second largest mobile operator.

Last month's cyber attack on Optus, owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (Singtel), was one of Australia's biggest data breaches, and compromised data of up to 10 million customers including home addresses, drivers' licenses and passport numbers.

The changes will enable telcos to share government-issued identification documents with banks to allow them to implement enhanced monitoring for customers impacted by data breaches.

"They've been carefully designed with strong privacy and security safeguards to ensure that only limited information can be made available temporarily to prevent and respond to cyber security incidents, fraud, scams and related activities," Treasurer Jim Chalmers said during a media conference.

The government will recommend to the governor-general to amend the privacy regulations, he said.

The proposed changes will also allow for increased fraud detection in the broader financial services sector through existing industry mechanisms to report fraudulent transactions, such as fraud information exchanges.

Chalmers said the government would not disclose details of financial institutions that receive the data from Optus due to data security reasons.

Information received must be destroyed by banks when it is no longer required and can only be used for the sole purpose of preventing or responding to cyber security incidents, fraud, scam activity or identity theft, the treasurer said.

Australia's telecommunications, financial and government sectors have been on high alert since the cyber attack at Optus and had flagged changes to privacy rules to help banks take immediate actions to prevent fraudulent transactions.

The Australian government, which believes the breach at Optus was due to a basic security gap, had slammed the company for describing the attack as sophisticated and for delays in updating affected customers.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!


Next In Tech News

Mastercard loses UK ruling on three million dead claimants in $12 billion case
Spotify, Epic Games get ally in Musk in fight against Apple fees
Cyber Monday sets sales record as shoppers splurge on toys, electronics- report
Italy seeks new options for TIM after bid for network put on hold
Vietnam smartphone exports fall ahead of Christmas as Samsung cuts output
From Amazon to Meta to Twitter: The US tech companies cutting jobs
Musk threatens war with Apple, jeopardising vital relationship
Hyundai Motor, SK On sign EV battery supply pact for N. America
Foxconn offers more bonuses to win back iPhone city staff
Russia's Kudrin to leave Audit Chamber, opening door to Yandex move

Others Also Read