An unresolved little Telstra privacy breach

Welcome back to the curious case of the voicemail on the formatted iPhone 5! If you’re new here, welcome. This is now the third installment in my adventures with Australia’s largest teleco [1], Telstra. My two previous posts are:

  1. A big little Telstra privacy breach, and
  2. A continuing little Telstra privacy breach

The TL;DR here is that I sold my iPhone 5 after formatting it and the new owner was receiving my visual voicemail. Telstra acknowledged the issue, but only after denying it was even possible and the media got involved [The Age, Friday Jan 22]. They then changed the security of my voicemail which prevented the iPhone from authenticating… It’s still trying as far as I know, but it’s failing.

So, on Saturday afternoon, three days after I first approached Telstra, the engineer I had been speaking with called. He was in the lab and desperately trying to replicate the issue and, while doing so, needed to confirm some details. He was understandably under some pressure to find the cause of the problem and would be flying to Melbourne to see the problematic device the following morning.

I have to say, of all the people I have interacted with at Telstra, this engineer has been an absolute legend. He knows his stuff and I’m desperately trying not to undermine his ability or authority, or his own privacy. He’s working hard and he’s the only person to have offered any form of ownership of and apology for the issue. Thanks – you know who you are!

On Sunday I was contacted via this blog by someone who has had a very similar experience. I was then in touch again with Hannah at Fairfax who told me she’d also been contacted by someone. She’d reached out to Telstra’s media team again but as far as I know she hasn’t received a response.

I’ve since had two frustrating and disappointing updates. This evening I was contacted by another journalist who, having spoken with someone at Telstra himself, told me the issue was apparently resolved. He wanted a comment to which I replied “it’s not”. Then, to round out the day, I received the following:


I’ve completed the questionnaire; “Is your matter resolved?” No. “How likely are you to recommend Telstra?” Not very.

To be absolutely clear, there is little I want to achieve here:

  • Some explanation as to how the issue occurred.
  • If I messed something up – tell me so I (and others) don’t do it again.
  • If I didn’t, tell me what’s being done to ensure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

There has been absolutely no recognition from Telstra of just how devastating this issue could have been, including me! A few years ago I had a serious health complication that, for a short while, was looking like lung cancer. I immediately spoke with my wife about it, but can you imagine if I had mulled it over while my messages, unbeknownst to me were being listened to by someone else? Far out!

Finally, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had from family and friends who all agree this issue is absolutely worth pursuing. I’ve been receiving messages from around the world and my little site has been wiped out at least once by the traffic it’s receiving. Thank you all.

Tomorrow’s a new day!

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