Issue No 36: 2 December 2020



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New Industry Code to Combat Scam Calls

Communications Alliance and the telecommunications sector today welcomed the decision to register a progressive new industry-developed Code to combat the scourge of scam telephone calls.

The Code – C661:2020, Reducing Scam Calls – is the output of work initiated in August 2019 by Communications Alliance and its members. The Code is a comprehensive effort to improve industry’s coordinated ability to detect, trace and block scam calls. The updated Code includes requirements to:

  • monitor networks, looking for call characteristics that indicate a likelihood that scamming is happening;
  • share information between service providers and also with regulators;
  • trace the origin of scam calls;
  • combat number ‘spoofing’, in which an overseas call is made to look as though it is a call from an Australian number; and
  • block numbers being used for scams, including through cooperation with international operators.

Industry has worked effectively with the Scam Telecommunications Action Taskforce (STAT), which includes representatives from Government, regulators and telecommunications service providers, on a range of anti-scam strategies and initiatives, including the development of the Code.

Communications Alliance CEO, John Stanton, praised the efforts of the industry working party that agreed the Code requirements and drove the process to see the Code registered by the industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

“There is a shared recognition that scam calls are financially damaging and distressful to thousands of Australians and need to be curbed through concerted joint efforts,” Mr Stanton said.

“We welcome the collaborative approach taken by the Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher and regulators, in concert with industry, to combat this problem.

“Millions of scam calls have been blocked in recent trial initiatives and service providers are investing in new technologies and processes to enable them to realise the objectives and requirements of the new Code,” Mr Stanton concluded.

Industry participants should also be aware of the requirement to provide Communications Alliance with their relevant contact details to be included in a Reducing Scam Calls industry contact list.

Communications Alliance Submission on Exposure Draft of Security of Infrastructure Legislation

Communications Alliance has provided a submission to the Department of Home Affairs in response to the Exposure Draft of the Security Legislation Amendment (Critical Infrastructure) Bill 2020.

The submission acknowledges that the protection of infrastructure is a national priority which must be tackled through a collaborative and principles-based approach across all sectors and stakeholders.

Our response notes the difficulty for our sector to provide detailed feedback at this stage in the process, because members are unable to develop an understanding of the actual obligation as they apply to their individual organisations and assets due to the sub-ordinate co-design process of the rules framework that will underpin the legislation.

We raise concern with the breadth of the obligations and the potential (or even likely) duplication of requirements contained in existing frameworks, including the Telecommunications Sector Security Reform (TSSR).

Among other issues, the submission also highlights the need for increased thresholds around and judicial review/independent assessment of the directions powers proposed by the draft legislation.

Communications Alliance Submission in Response to the Review of the Privacy Act

Communications Alliance has made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department Privacy Act Review Issues Paper.

The Issues Paper, which will be followed by a more detailed submissions paper in 2021, canvasses a number of potentially significant changes to the Act. Key issues of particular relevance to our sectors include:

  • Changes to the objectives of the Act, with a proposal to potentially remove ‘legitimate business interests’ from the objectives;
  • Changes to the definition of ‘personal information’, with a view to include technical and online identifiers, and questions around the inclusion of ‘inferred information’ in the definition;
  • Notice and consent requirements, including for children;
  • Third party data collection;
  • A right to erasure of personal information held by organisations; and
  • The creation of a direct right to action for breaches of the Act and/or a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy.

Comments Sought on Draft Industry Code (DR 637:2019) Mobile Premium Services Incorporating Variation No.1/2021

The Mobile Premium Services Code sets out rules that apply to service providers in relation to the supply of Mobile Premium Services in Australia.

The proposed variation to the Code was made to align with a consultation being undertaken by the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA). The ACMA consultation is seeking submissions on a proposal to cease the operation of the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No. 1) and the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No. 2) (MPS Determinations).

Both instruments are due to sunset on 1 April 2021.

This variation includes the introduction of obligations from the MPS Determinations to require CSPs to:

  • implement a service that enables customers to request barring of all Premium Services;
  • have in place processes to activate customer requests for the barring of Premium Services as soon as practicable; and
  • not charge a fee for the barring of Premium Services.

The draft Code, Terms of Reference and the submit comments form can be found here.

All submissions received will be made publicly available on the Communications Alliance website unless the submitter requests otherwise.

The Public Comment for the draft closes at 5:00 p.m. (AEST) on Sunday 17 January 2021.

We welcome your feedback on our newsletter.

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