Thursday, 04 February 2021 11:40

ACMA launches public consultation on compliance priorities Featured

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The telecommunications industry regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), is seeking public feedback on its compliance priorities for its 2021–22 work program.

The ACMA’s compliance priorities for 2021-22 focus on areas of significant public interest or issues causing negative impacts on the community, including consumer harm - and the authority put out a call on Thursday seeking views on “new issues of public interest or issues causing consumer harm”.

“These areas of activity guide our efforts to deliver effective compliance and, where necessary, targeted enforcement action. We value your views and feedback to inform our work program. Past feedback directly informed the development of our current compliance priorities,” the ACMA said in a statement.

The ACMA lists a number of questions on compliance it wants feedback on, including:

  • What are the matters of significant public interest or concern?
  • What are the potential and actual causes of harm to consumers?
  • What are the high level risks of non-compliance, including from technological developments?
  • What are the emerging issues where we can encourage compliant behaviour, deter non-compliance or boost public confidence?
  • What are the technological or market developments that test the effectiveness of the regulatory framework?
  • In what specific areas can we clarify the scope and reach of the law?

The ACMA also seeks public views about whether it should extend any of its 2020–21 compliance priority areas for a further year, and if so, why?

“Our compliance priorities outline our key areas of focus for the year. They will guide our efforts to deliver effective compliance and, where necessary, targeted enforcement action,” the ACMA said.

“Each year, we target key areas of focus for improved industry compliance. We choose these areas because they are in the public interest or may have a negative impact on the community.

“We also prioritise developing areas where we can encourage compliance and boost public confidence. As new technologies and markets emerge, we will test how well our regulatory framework and current laws are working.”

In 2020–21, the ACMA says its compliance priorities will focus on:

1. Protecting telco customers

The TCP Code is an important part of regulation aimed at protecting consumers. It was revised in 2019, with new rules for telcos. These include responsible approaches to selling, credit assessment and consumer

We’ll be monitoring how telcos follow these rules, with a focus on how they sell to and interact with disadvantaged and vulnerable people.

2. A better move to the NBN

In 2018, we introduced new rules to improve the process for households and small businesses moving their phone and internet to services delivered over the NBN.  

While the rollout is almost complete, many consumers and small businesses still need to move their services. We’ll conduct audits, take enforcement action and guide telco providers on the rules.

3. 5G and EME

Every mobile phone base, including small cell and base stations, must meet Australian standards designed to protect people against

(EME) emissions.

We’ll be making sure mobile base station emissions meet Australian standards set by the radiation protection agency. We’ll also be monitoring how telcos follow the rules to ensure people receive accurate information about the rollout of 5G networks in their local areas.

4. Phone scams

Phone scams are increasing and can cause serious harm. They can have severe financial and social impacts on Australians, especially those in vulnerable circumstances.

We’ll look at new ways to fight phone scams, including making sure telcos follow new rules we’ve introduced to protect Australians from fraud and identity theft—a critical consequence of phone scams.

5. Financial services marketing

Illegal financial services marketing—by SMS, email and phone—can cause serious harm, particularly for vulnerable people. Complaints remain high for both spam and telemarketing. We’ll be targeting cold calling for financial services, including when this marketing is outsourced.

As well as undertaking compliance activities and investigations, we’ll be educating Australians about their rights, and businesses about their responsibilities.

6. Online casinos targeting Aussies

It’s illegal to provide or advertise online casino-style gambling services to people in Australia. These services pose a risk for problem gamblers and do not have the consumer protections we expect in Australia.

We’ll focus on the providers of online casinos that target Australians as well as associated marketers and other supporting services. We’ll move quickly to disrupt their services and protect Australians.

7. Interference from unlicensed mobile phone repeaters and in the construction and resources industries

In our role managing the, we try to minimise interference between users. This year, we’ll focus on two areas:

  • unlicensed mobile phone repeaters, which are often bought online and cause interference and poor mobile network performance
  • interference caused in the construction and resources

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