• Reporter says company accessed data in reaction to a story
  • Vodafone Australia denies allegations of improper behavior

Vodafone Hutchison Australia said an employee accessed a reporter’s text messages and call history after she wrote a story about a security vulnerability in the phone company’s computer system.

The company, which discovered the breach around 2012, said in a statement Saturday that there’s no evidence management had instructed the employee to access the data of Natalie O’Brien, a reporter for Fairfax Media.

“In around June 2012, VHA became aware that an employee had, in January 2011, accessed some recent text messages and call records of a customer,” the company said. The company “immediately commissioned an investigation by one of Australia’s top accounting firms. The investigation found there was no evidence VHA management had instructed the employee to access the messages.”

O’Brien said in a column on Saturday in The Sydney Morning Herald that a Vodafone Hutchison Australia employee downloaded a copy of her messages and call records. O’Brien said she believed “it was because I was doing my job that I was targeted and it was my own telco that was doing it to me.”

The Australian 50-50 joint venture of Newbury, England-based Vodafone Group Plc and Hong Kong-based CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd. denies “any allegations of improper behavior” and said that in the last four years, it has investigated the security of its computer systems and appointed a privacy officer.

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