Circles.Life latest telco penalised for IPND breach

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Circles.Life latest telco penalised for IPND breach

Fined more than $250k.

MVNO Circles.Life has become the latest telco to attract a fine for not complying with its integrated public number database (IPND) obligations.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) hit the brand’s owner Circles Australia with a $253,080 infringement notice for what the authority described as “large-scale breaches” of the rules.

ACMA found the MVNO failed to provide customer information to the IPND on more than 60,000 customers between January and August 2022.

The IPND is a central database of listed phone numbers, relied on by emergency services, law enforcement and national security agencies, among others.

“It is alarming that Circles.Life had no idea that its customer information was not being uploaded until contacted by the ACMA,” chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

As is so often the case, the failure resulted from an IT system error, which prevented Circles.Life’s IPND data files from uploading.

Further, the company failed to check its IPND data - checks which “would have alerted it that something was amiss over an extended period.”

The penalty includes court-enforceable undertakings that the company have its IPND compliance practices independently reviewed, with a commitment to making required improvements.

Circles.Life said in a statement that it is "committed to working with the ACMA to ensure that we are compliant with providing customer information to the IPND."

A spokesperson said the issue was rectified "within weeks" and that the telco had taken additional steps "to ensure that Circles is never in a situation like this again, including the appointment of an external auditor at our expense and direction."

Circles.Life last year paid a total of nearly $300,000 when the ACMA found customers had suffered fraud because the telco didn’t have “adequate multi-factor ID checks in place”, the regulator said.

The regulator noted that since 2018, it’s levied nearly $4 million in penalties on 31 telcos over IPND non-compliance.

Those include Telstra and Lycamobile in 2021, and Aussie Broadband in 2022.

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