Telstra in the sights of Information Commissioner over data tracking

OAIC confirms it has spoken to Telstra about Next G browsing data being sent overseas to Netsweeper

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (AOIC) has confirmed that it is in discussions with Telstra after the telco revealed it was tracking websites visited by Next G mobile customers and sending the information to a US-based company called Netsweeper.

According to a Telstra spokesman, the company had been sending the information to Netsweeper in order to build a database of sites for a new cybersafety tool called Smart Controls.

An AOIC spokesperson said in a statement that it has requested further information from Telstra about the data tracking before deciding whether it would open an investigation.

Telstra ceased collection of the website addresses this week and issued a statement saying it had done so after hearing concerns from Next G customers about the development of Smart Controls.

According to Telstra, Smart Controls was designed to allow parents to choose the website categories their children could access on a mobile phone.

“We want to reassure all our customers that at no point in the development of this product was personal information collected or stored and we’ll be reviewing what we learned from this project,” said a Telstra spokeswoman.

“We understand our customers’ concerns about protecting their privacy online and are serious about keeping trust on this front by being transparent about the way we deal with customer data.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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