Australian regulator says Vodafone breaches verification rules for prepay customers

Telco provider, Vodafone, found itself in hot water after changes to its IT system meant that it failed to verify the identity of 1028 prepaid mobile customers before activating their services, an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found.

"Verifying the identity of prepaid mobile customers helps law enforcement and national security agencies obtain accurate information about the identity of customers for the purposes of their investigations", said James Cameron, Acting Chair of the ACMA.

The telco then confirmed the identity of 13,314 of those customers and suspended 6,383 services where a person's identity could not be reasonably identified.

The breaches took place between 6 January 2015 and 6 January 2016, the ACMA said, following changes to Vodafone IT systems. Over these days, 1569 had checked the ID in store option.

A Vodafone spokesperson said the company said it has been working closely with ACMA and is committed to the terms of the undertaking.

Determination 2017 (the Determination) requires all operators to verify the identity of customers of prepaid mobile services before activating their services.

The undertaking states that Vodafone accepts that there were "material weaknesses" in its compliance control framework that led to breaches of the determination.

A Vodafone spokesperson explained it has since taken steps to confirm the identity of those customers or cancel services in cases where this verification wasn't possible, and resolve the underlying issue.

"We can assure our customers that our systems and processes are robust, and we are continually working to ensure we act in accordance with the law".

Before it makes any change to its pre-paid identity verification systems, it is required to conduct a review of proposed changes and keep records of the review, conduct a risk assessment and a post-risk assessment, and audit its pre-paid ID records every six months during the undertaking.

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