ACMA wants to see consistent telco consumer safeguards introduced

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has suggested that a single communications regulatory framework would help deliver a “technology-agnostic” and consistent consumer safeguards across all telco platforms. 

Writing in a submission to a Senate inquiry into the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Unsolicited Communications) Bill 2019, the ACMA said under its proposed single scheme, existing rules in the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, Spam Act 2003, and the Telecommunications Act 1997 could all be consolidated so that it aligns with consent obligations under the Privacy Act 1998.

“A new scheme would, ideally, consist of a universal consent-based framework under which contact could only occur where either consumer consent has first been obtained, or where a public interest exemption is applicable,” the ACMA wrote [PDF].

“In such a new scheme, exemptions could remain, however with an additional safeguard via an obligation on all entities to provide an ‘unsubscribe’ functionality-regardless of the size of the entity, marketing channel used, or whether the entity is otherwise exempt.”

See also: How to enable Auto Call Screening on the Google Pixel 4 (TechRepublic)

The ACMA added that if this framework were to be adopted, it would be consistent with international approaches to consumer safeguards, pointing to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, as an example. 

At the same time, the ACMA said the framework would be “broadly consistent” with the current Spam Act and remove the need for a Do Not Call Register as it would give consumers, by default, the option to opt out of receiving unsolicited communications. 

These remarks follow the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia’s earlier submission to the inquiry, which called for charities in Australia to continue to be exempted by the nation’s Do Not Call Register. 

WWF claimed phone calls still played a key role in its campaigns.

“By restricting charity’s ability to do so via the telephone would have a massive impact on the not-for-profit sector, and our ability to deliver services for good at a time when they are most needed,” the charity wrote. 

Introduced last year by Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff, the Bill that is being looked into by the committee would allow people to choose not to receive calls from charities, be informed if actors were being used in electoral calls, and force political parties to allow people to unsubscribe from receiving emails.

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