Use of Telecommunications Customer Information
Last Updated: 17 Nov 2006
This section contains information about regulatory proposals and related inquiries concerning restricting the use (without consent) of telecommunications customer information (e.g. telephone numbers and addresses) including information contained in the mandatory Integrated Public Number Database.
In March 2004 the Australian Communications Authority ("ACA") issued a Discussion Paper titled Who's Got Your Number?: Regulating the Use of Telecommunications Customer Information for public consultation. The Paper stated that the ACA had "decided to determine an industry standard to regulate the use of telecommunications customer information" because ACA investigations had "revealed that customer information was being used for purposes beyond those specified or contemplated within Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act" and that "the IPND Code was failing to properly regulate the use of customer information".
EFA sent a submission to the ACA advocating that the proposed industry standard should prohibit telecommunications service providers from disclosing their customers' contact information to datamatching and marketing businesses, and that information in the mandatory Integrated Public Number Database should not be made available to datamatching and marketing businesses, etc. See EFA's Submission in response to the Who's Got Your Number Discussion Paper, 19 May 2004.
In July 2005, the Australian Communications & Media Authority (formerly ACA) issued a Draft Telecommunications Industry Standard (Use of Integrated Public Number Database) 2005 for public comment. See EFA's submission in response to the Draft Telecommunications Industry Standard (Use of Integrated Public Number Database) 2005, 28 July 2005.
On 19 October 2006, the Telecommunications Amendment (Integrated Public Number Database) Bill 2006 was introduced into Federal Parliament. This Bill is intended to achieve substantially the same objectives as the previously planned Industry Standard and will improve privacy protection for telephone subscriber information stored in the IPND. It will implement a situation substantially similar to that advocated in EFA's 2005 submission to the ACMA concerning personal information sourced from the IPND.
Unfortunately however the Government has not addressed a related issue raised in EFA's and other privacy/consumer advocacy groups' submissions. As Sensis does not collect telephone subscriber information for the White Pages from the IPND, but directly from telephone service providers, the Bill will not result in adequate regulation of the use and disclosure of personal information by Sensis and the organisations to which Sensis sells its directory related services/products, nor will it result in a level playing field applicable to public directory producers. EFA considers Sensis should be required to comply with the same rules as any other public directory producer.
In October 2005, a Discussion Paper titled Introduction of an Australian Do Not Call Register was issued for public consultation by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. EFA supported the establishment of a Do Not Call Register and submitted that additional measures are also necessary, including regulations governing the use of automated calling systems and minimum national contact standards. See EFA's submission in response to the Do Not Call Register Discussion Paper, 28 Nov 2005.
Subsequently in June 2006, the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and the Do Not Call Register (Consequential Amendments) Act 2006 were enacted by Federal Parliament. The legislation is to become operative on a date to fixed by Proclamation which is expected to be during the first half of 2007, i.e. after the Australian Communications and Media Authority ("ACMA") has arranged establishment of the Register and formulated an associated industry standard, etc. For more information, see ACMA's Do Not Call Register page.
In August 2006, the Australian Communications and Media Authority ("ACMA") issued a Discussion Paper on an Industry Standard for the Making of Telemarketing Calls for public comment. The ACMA is required by the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 to develop a national telemarketing standard to provide consumers with greater certainty regarding the minimum level of behaviour they can expect from unsolicited telemarketing calls. The standard will apply to all telemarketing calls made to an Australian number to market, advertise or promote goods and services, conduct opinion polling and to carry out standard questionnaire-based research. It will apply to all telemarketers including those that will be exempt from the general prohibition from calling numbers on the Do Not Call Register (such as charities, registered political parties, and religious organisations). See EFA's submission in response to the ACMA's Discussion Paper on an Industry Standard for the Making of Telemarketing Calls. See also ACMA's Do Not Call Register page which includes links to submissions lodged in response to the Discussion Paper.