Thursday, 13 April 2017 02:02

ACMA changes ID checking rules for mobile services Featured

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ACMA changes ID checking rules for mobile services Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The telecommunications regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), has revised the rules on identity-checking requirements for prepaid mobile services.

The revision aims to make it simpler for mobile providers to supply prepaid mobile services for people in emergency situations where they can’t return home due to natural disasters or family violence, as well as increasing the range of credit cards that can be used for identity verification.

Telecommunications service provider identity checking rules were first introduced in 1997 to allow law enforcement and national security agencies to obtain information about the identity of customers for their investigations.

Announcing its revised determination on the rules on Wednesday, the ACMA said accurate information from customers of prepaid services could also assist timely responses by emergency service organisations—police, fire and ambulance services—to Triple Zero emergency calls from prepaid services.

The new determination by the ACMA follows its review of the regulatory arrangements for identity checks and implements recommendations of the working group — including government and industry representatives — the authority established to assist with its review.

The revised rules protect the privacy of individuals by requiring that mobile providers only obtain the minimum amount of information “reasonably necessary to verify identity”, and don’t increase the amount of information consumers are required to provide to their mobile providers.

Prepaid mobile phone services enable users to pay in advance for the cost of their mobile phone calls, and as credit is reduced, the user has the option of purchasing another prepaid service or recharging their existing prepaid service through the purchase of further credit.

Under a 2013 determination on identity checking by the ACMA, a mobile provider could use a credit card issued by an authorised deposit-taking institution as a means of verifying a customer’s identity information.

Now, credit cards made available to a person by a licensed credit provider can also be used.

When the ACMA announced a review of the rules late last year, it said proposed recommendations for revision included addressing some of the practical issues that have arisen during industry’s “widespread transition away from sighting identification at the time of sale to verifying identity at the time of activation, using other identity verification methods that deliver a higher level of confidence about a person’s identity”.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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