Voda's snooping fail: Conroy, Morrow cross swords in Canberra

Media union calls on Privacy Commish to investigate

The Vodafone data access scandal has reached Canberra, with Labor senator Stephen Conroy taking a swipe at nbnTM Bill Morrow, formerly head of Vodafone Australia. over his knowledge of the incident.

Conroy took time out from fine-tooth-combing the financials and build forecasts of the company building Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) to ask what action Morrow took, only to be referred back to Vodafone.

Morrow wasn't at Vodafone when the privacy breach took place, but his tenure included the time that the breach was discussed in executive e-mails, in 2012.

Conroy asked if the matter had been referred to the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, or regulators, but Morrow said he could not recall “specific details” about the case.

Since he's no longer associated with Vodafone, Morrow told Conroy to take the matter up with the company, adding that he personally made no report to the police because “I was not aware of any of the details” that are now being reported.

He said if there was any criminal activity it would have been “appropriately dealt with”.

Conroy, whose relationship with Morrow has been prickly at best, said the issue “goes to the heart of whether you're suitable for this job”.

Meanwhile, Australia's journalist union, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), has reacted to revelations that someone at Vodafone snooped on a journalist who exposed lax security among its resellers by calling on the Privacy Commissioner to mount an investigation.

After allegations surfaced in Murdoch organ The Australian on Friday, the mobile carrier published a statement on the weekend agreeing that an employee had looked at Fairfax journalist Natalie O'Brien's call and text records.

O'Brien's work led to the discovery that Vodafone's retail partners could see way too much customer information. The company was later off the hook by the Privacy Commissioner at the time.

The MEAA's CEO Paul Murphy has told The Guardian Australia the breach is shocking.

“For a telecommunications company to engage in this sort of breach is unforgivable”, he said, calling for the company to make public “material about the breach”. ®

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