Telstra was hit with an AUD2.5 million ($1.8 million) penalty by Australia’s communications watchdog for repeatedly breaching consumer privacy and safety rules.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found large-scale violations of rules intended to protect customers and failing to upload a customer’s choice of an unlisted number to the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) more than 50,000 times. The omission meant the numbers could be published in public phone directories.

ACMA stated Telstra also failed to provide data to the IPND for customers of its MVNO Belong on more than 65,000 occasions.

Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA chair, noted the failures potentially put people’s safety at risk. “When people request a silent number, it is often for very important privacy and safety reasons, and we know that the publication of their details can have serious consequences.”

O’Loughlin added Telstra reported the failures and moved quickly to fix them. “However, this is not Telstra’s only recent major breach of these rules, which is why the ACMA has taken this action.”

ACMA found Telstra breached the same requirements in 2019.

The regulator has an option to take future breaches to court, which could result in civil penalties of up to AUD10 million per case.