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Phone directory publisher Localsearch Operations directed to improve compliance

Persons hand dialling a number on smartphone

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a remedial direction to directory publisher Localsearch Operations Pty Ltd (Localsearch) after it published names and addresses for 29 unlisted (silent) phone numbers.

An ACMA investigation also found Localsearch did not destroy customer data for 24 of the unlisted numbers within the required 10 business days after being notified the numbers had changed from listed to unlisted. It is Localsearch’s second breach in the last nine months.  

Localsearch is authorised by the ACMA to use the information from the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) to publish its directories. The IPND is a secure database of Australian listed and unlisted phone numbers emergency services, law enforcement, researchers and publishers of phone directories.

The latest ACMA investigation found Localsearch breached the Telecommunications Integrated Public Number Database Scheme 2017. The remedial direction requires Localsearch to establish stronger compliance systems, processes and practices, implement staff training, and conduct regular internal reviews to ensure future compliance with its obligations.

“Localsearch failed to comply with IPND access requirements, letting down members of the public who had legitimate and reasonable expectations of privacy. The IPND is an important resource and the ACMA takes compliance with the access obligations very seriously,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“As this is Localsearch’s second breach over the past year, the ACMA considers a remedial direction an appropriate penalty. The direction aims to refine Localsearch’s processes and procedures to support future compliance so we don’t see a repeat of these breaches,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Organisations that use numbers on the IPND must comply with rules to protect the privacy of individuals.”

The ACMA issued Localsearch a formal warning in May 2020 for a separate breach after it published an unlisted number in one of its phone directories.

Directory publishers can face penalties of up to $250,000 if they fail to carry out the requirements of a remedial direction.

MR 2/2021

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or media@acma.gov.au.

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