Monday, May 22, 2006

Australian women fear "stalker" reverse directory

The Privacy Commissioner of Australia is poised to investigate a controvertial "reverse directory" in that country. The site,, provides names, addresses and numbers of residents based on partial information, including just the streets they live on. Women in particular are afraid that it'll make a good tool for stalkers.

The Advertiser: Women fear website puts them in danger [23may06].



AN unauthorised telephone directory website has alarmed women, who fear it will increase the risk of stalking and endanger women and children seeking refuge from domestic violence.

The website - - also has disturbed Telstra, which yesterday described it as "a gross invasion of privacy".

The website and the source of its information was last night under investigation by federal authorities, including the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner. Sensis, Telstra's online directory division, said it was "appalled" by the website, which provides "reverse search" access to address and telephone numbers of individuals.

"Unlike the White Pages directory, where you need to know the name of the person you are searching for before you can find their details, reverse searching enables people to search for your private details without knowing who you are," Sensis Corporate Affairs Manager Karina White said.

"For example, you can find out someone's personal details just by knowing the street they live on.

"Whoever is behind this website has no regard for Australians' rights to have their personal contact information handled responsibly and with respect."

Karen Barnes, chairperson of the Kilburn-based Women's Housing Association, was concerned for the safety and security of women and children trying to flee abusive situations.

"We will be pursuing a formal inquiry to try and get this website closed down," Ms Barnes said.

Telecommunications industry sources last night said initial inquiries indicated an overseas computer hacker had gained access to the Integrated Public Number Database, which contains the names, addresses, phone numbers and phone location of all residential and business customers in the country. The database is managed by Telstra on behalf of the telecommunications industry.

The INPD is used by telcos to develop their own directories and is also available to authorised members of the Australian police and emergency services.

ACMA last night confirmed it had started investigating the source of the information on the website.

Privacy Commissioner Karen Curtis was last night preparing to launch a formal investigation.

The domain is being redirected to I understand the term "boong" (which I must confess I've never heard before) is an offensive term used to refer to aboriginal Australians.

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