ACCC patches CMS flaw it blames for TPG-Vodafone decision leak

The watchdog expresses deep regret over failure to successfully protect sensitive information.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has patched a flaw in its content management system (CMS) after the watchdog last week inadvertently disclosed its decision to block the proposed merger between Vodafone Australia and TPG before it was meant to. 

The ACCC on Thursday afternoon blamed the decision leak on the CMS flaw.

The merger decision was released at 3pm on 8 May despite the ACCC originally intending for it to be released the following day. The information was live for eight minutes before it was taken down.

"The information became public when, following the normal practice ahead of announcements, the information was being input into the back end of the mergers register, a third-party user sought to access the existing webpage at the precise moment it was being updated," the ACCC explained in a statement.

Read also: Australia claims it's a 'leader' in digital government

ACCC chief operating officer Rayne de Gruchy pointed to the watchdog's track record of not leaking sensitive market information when apologising for the faux pas

"The ACCC has successfully managed highly market-sensitive commercial information for decades and this is the first time, to our knowledge, that a merger decision has been released in this manner," she said.

"We apologise unreservedly for this unfortunate and serious incident.

"We have thoroughly reviewed all of the processes and information technology systems that led to this error, and we want to assure our stakeholders this incident will not be repeated."

As the decision to block the merger -- that the two companies claimed would create a AU$15 billion telco behemoth -- was posted during ASX's trading hours, the ACCC decided to issue a statement at the time confirming the leaked information.

In its decision, the ACCC said it believed the merger would substantially lessen competition and that TPG had the commercial incentive to roll out a mobile network.

In response, Vodafone Australia and TPG are headed to Federal Court for a merger approval.


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