Alinta Energy accused of risking customer privacy

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One of Australia’s fastest growing energy retailers has been accused of risking the privacy of its customers as a result of poor data protection processes and cyber security.

Hong Kong-owned Alinta Energy has responded to claims led by ABC’s 7.30, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that the retailer ‘has a reckless approach to privacy and data’.

The joint investigation from the media companies stated that an internal whistleblower provided documents alleging that around 1.1 million retail electricity and gas customers’ identity could be compromised due to inadequate privacy monitoring systems.

Personal information allegedly at risk included names, addresses, date of births, contact numbers, credit card details, passport numbers and Medicare credentials.

Alinta Energy has since responded to these claims, stating that sensitive customer information has not been breached.

“Alinta Energy actively protects its customers’ privacy. Our customer data is stored on secure servers within Australia,” said an Alinta Energy spokesperson.

The spokesperson added: “Alinta Energy commissions independent audits of our data protection processes, such as privacy and cyber, to check controls and obtain best practice recommendations to continually enhance our systems. Alinta Energy has and continues to adopt the recommendations. There is no suggestion that a breach has occurred as reported yesterday.

“Alinta Energy will continue to work with regulators overseeing our data collection and storage processes.”

Following the media story, it’s reported that the Essential Services Commission (ESC) of Victoria and other industry regulators will be investigating further.

The Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises purchased Alinta Energy in April 2017. The acquisition was highly politicised at the time due to the nature of a foreign company taking ownership of the vital electricity generation infrastructure owned by the company.

In recent years, Alinta Energy has been one of the highest-rated electricity providers in Canstar Blue’s annual customer satisfaction ratings, currently ranked best in both Queensland and South Australia.

Image credit: PaintedLens/shutterstock.com

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