March 8, 2018 / 4:03 PM / in 7 months

A1 Austria Telekom accused of violating data privacy rules

VIENNA (Reuters) - A1 Telekom Austria (TELA.VI), part of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim’s America Movil (AMXL.MX), has been accused of violating the privacy of tens of thousands of its customers, Austria’s data protection authority said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Telekom Austria with its brand name A1 is seen in Vienna, Austria, July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo /File Photo

Austria’s leading telecommunications and data services provider allegedly illegally stored user data of its own A1 mobile and fixed line services and its low-cost brand Bob as well as of Red Bull mobile customers, an authority’s spokesman said, confirming an earlier report by Austrian daily Kurier.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Austrian telekom provider A1 is seen outside its headquarters in Vienna, Austria, July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger /File Photo

A1 Telekom has been storing phone numbers, connection data and websites visited by the affected customers for an indefinite period of time with some data ranging back to as far as 2013, lawyer Ewald Scheucher said.

Scheucher flagged the issue to the data protection authority.

Private and business customers including the country’s rail network provider and political parties were affected, Scheucher added.

A1 Telekom said it took the allegations very seriously and had set up an internal task force to deal with it.

“We are analysing the corresponding internal processes and will, if necessary, take the necessary measures,” it said in a statement.

Connection data may only be collected for charging purposes and should be deleted within three months according to Austrian law, the lawyer said. If customers appeal an invoice or in cases of pending legal disputes, data can be stored longer.

A1 Telekom has about two weeks to submit an opinion and depending on that further steps will be considered, the data protection authority said.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Keith Weir

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