Issue No 29: 2 November 2021



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Federal Ministers Welcome Progress on Protecting Australians from Scam Texts

Federal Government Ministers, in a statement released on 27 October, have welcomed the successfully blocking of scammers attempting to send text messages appearing to come from legitimate government sender IDs, including Centrelink, myGov, and the Australian Taxation Office.

Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher, welcomed the success of the initiative and said the Morrison Government is committed to reducing phone scams.

Minister Fletcher said the blocking of scam texts follows the success of a pilot program to capture “phishing” texts appearing to originate from government agencies that blocked more than 2,500 scam texts over the past 12 months.

He said that, in addition, as a result of the Reducing Scam Calls industry code (drafted by Communications Alliance Members and registered by the industry regulator, the ACMA) more than 214 million scam calls had been blocked since December 2020

“I am very pleased that so many scam texts appearing to come from legitimate government sender IDs, including Centrelink, myGov and the ATO are being blocked,” Minister Fletcher said.

“The success of this initiative is timely, given the use of MyGov has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have written to NBN Co, Australia Post and the banks strongly encouraging them to apply the same process to text messages they send.”

Minister for Defence, the Hon Peter Dutton, said that phishing messages were one of the most common ways for cybercriminals to compromise users and the initiative had been successful in preventing such messages from getting through to phones. 

“This collaboration between the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Services Australia and Telstra and the telecommunications sector is an excellent example of the Australian Government and industry working together to develop solutions to stop cybercriminals from exploiting Australians en masse,” Minister Dutton said.

“The Australian Cyber Security Centre is continuing to work with the telecommunications sector for an industry-wide solution to increase that protection.”

Minister for Government Services, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, said the success of the pilot is an important milestone upon which the Government could now build.

“One year on from the pilot’s launch, 2,500 SMS scams that would have otherwise circulated in the community have been blocked,” Minister Reynolds said.

“Services Australia is continuing to develop and refine security measures to prevent against scams, which have the potential to cause such enormous harm, particularly to those not overly familiar with technology.

“This is a welcome step as we continue to work with law enforcement agencies and industry to keep Australians safe from harm.”

(Communications Alliance is drafting an additional chapter to the Reducing Scam Calls Code, to target scam text messages and hopes to submit this soon for consideration for registration by the ACMA. Comms Alliance members have also submitted to the ACMA, for consideration for registration, a new code to strengthen customer authentication measures.)

Submission to the AVM Inquiry

Communications Alliance has joined a coalition of industry and civil society organisations and made a submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement Inquiry into the Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019.

The submission re-iterates its support for the intent of the AVM legislation and puts forward a number of suggested amendments to ensure the legislation more closely aligns with the intent. The core areas for clarification include:

  • Awareness of AVM material (in relation to presumed recklessness and required actions);
  • Scope (which currently includes private B2B cloud platforms which cannot control uploaded content);
  • Defences (where those intersect with public interest and political expression); and
  • Formal review process (absence of a formal review process for notices from the eSafety Commissioner).

Submission to the TIO Terms of Reference

Communications Alliance has provided a submission to the TIO’s consultation on guidance for its revised Terms of Reference. The submission addresses proposed guidance on compensation for non-financial loss and draft revised guidance on systemic issues and investigations. Comms Alliance welcomes the TIO’s transparent development of this guidance, but remains concerned about the potential serious consequences of compensation for non-financial loss if the procedures are not clearly set out.

Current Consultations

Below is a list of currently open telecommunications-related consultations being conducted by Government and other organisations that provide an opportunity for you to have your say.

Communications Alliance members interested in contributing to an industry submission (if one is being developed in response to a specific consultation) should contact us.

ConsultationOrganisationClosing Date
Implementation of Parliamentary Committee and Auditor-General Recommendations - Department of Home AffairsAustralian National Audit Office27/02/2022
Infrastructure Record Keeping Rules
NBN Services in Operation Record Keeping RulesACCC
TIO Terms of Reference - Joining Multiple Members to a Complaint
Reporting on Telstra delivery of voice servicesDITRDC08/11/2021

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