Lycamobile Cops $186,000 Penalty for ‘Public Safety Failures’

Lycamobile Cops $186,000 Penalty for ‘Public Safety Failures’
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Lycamobile paid a $186,480 penalty after the ACMA found further contraventions in relation to previous enforcement actions for “public safety failures”.

As explained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Lycamobile Pty Ltd, a British mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) operating in Australia, in 2021 paid a $604,800 penalty and entered into a court-enforceable undertaking with the ACMA. That undertaking and fine was due to Lycamobile failing to provide customer data to the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND), which is used by police and emergency services.

The IPND is a record of most Australian phone numbers and owner details, including customer name, service type and address. It has listed and unlisted phone numbers. Telcos are legally required to send a Public Number Customer Data record to the IPND for each service they provide using a public number.

At the time, the ACMA also gave Lycamobile a remedial direction to comply with customer identity rules after the company failed to undertake proper ID checks when activating prepaid mobile services.

Under these, Lycamobile was required to provide written reports to the ACMA about how it would improve its ID verification for prepaid SIM owners, the staff training it would undertake and the independent auditor it would appoint.

But, a new investigation kicked off, the ACMA said, after Lycamobile failed to take action in required timeframes.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said Lycamobile has shown an “ongoing disregard” for its obligations and the commitments it made to the regulator.

“It consistently missed deadlines, provided inadequate reports and, when we raised these matters on multiple occasions, gave subsequent commitments that it then failed to meet,” she said.

“We take these types of commitments very seriously and will act when telcos fail to meet them.”

She said, however, that Lycamobile is starting to take its obligations seriously.

“Breaching obligations and not fulfilling commitments to the regulator has been costly for the company and caused potential harm to its customers. We will continue to watch Lycamobile closely to make sure it’s doing the right thing by its customers and the public,” O’Loughlin said.

Lycamobile’s remedial direction and enforceable undertaking will remain in place for a further two years.

Should Lycamobile fail to comply with its obligations again, the ACMA can commence proceedings in the Federal Court for civil penalties of up to $250,000 per contravention, it added.