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SingTel Preps for Potential Lawsuits Against Optus Data Breach

Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has revealed that it is currently engaging with lawyers following a major data breach last month from its Australian subsidiary, Optus. The move comes despite the fact that the company has not yet received notice of a class action lawsuit, with the telco seemingly being prudent about any potential cases that may arise from the incident.

singtel telco
Credit: Justin Ng/Flickr

Optus, Australia's second-biggest mobile carrier, suffered a massive data breach earlier in September when hackers dumped the records of 9.8 million current and former customers. This meant that over one-third of the country's population lost details of passports, driver's licenses or medical identity cards, exposing them to potential financial crimes.

While nothing has been confirmed, SingTel said in a statement to the Singapore stock exchange that any potential fines and compensation costs are "speculative" at the moment. Additionally, the telco stressed that while no class action lawsuit has been filed yet, such a case would be “vigorously defended".

Slater & Gordon and Maurice Blackburn, two major law firms down under, confirmed they are investigating a possible class action against Optus to claim compensation for those affected by the breach. Optus, on the other hand, appointed Deloitte to run an independent external review of its security systems and processes.

optus singtel australia data breach
Credit: cogdogblog/Flickr

The large mobile network operator in Singapore, SingTel currently only risks being fined up to A$2.2 million, the maximum amount allowed under Australia's Privacy Act. The government said that it will seek to increase the penalties under the bill following the incident, with Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil telling parliament that a data breach of such a size would usually result in a fine amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars in other countries.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese added that Optus should be made to pay for passport replacements. Echoing the sentiment, some states also want the telco to be responsible for the cost of new driving permits.

  • SingTel is engaging with lawyers to prepare a defence against any potential class action lawsuits following the Optus data breach.

  • Almost 10 million Australians had their passport, driver's license, or medical identity card information leaked last month.

  • Under Australian law, they can only be fined up to A$2.2 million for the incident.

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