Issue No 24: 7 November 2016



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CA-AMTA joint submission to Electoral Committee on the role of CSPs regarding the authorisation of voter communications

Communications Alliance and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) provided a joint submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters Inquiry into all aspects of the conduct of the 2016 Federal Election and matters related thereto. The Committee had sought our feedback on the question as to whether carriers/carriage services providers (C/CSPs) are or could be made responsible for ensuring that electoral content carried over telecommunications networks is appropriately authorised or whether they might have an obligation to assist authorities if communications are non-compliant.

The Committee is looking specifically at issues relating to the so-called "Mediscare" messages that were sent to voters during the election campaign.

Our submission argued that C/CSPs ought not to be made responsible for compliance with any applicable electoral advertising requirements. The submission made a number of points, including:

  • Our industry assists national security and law enforcement agencies in accordance with Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act. The proposal for industry to more broadly ‘police’ the traffic that it carries over its networks raises fundamental concerns, including citizen’s rights and ethical issues, technical difficulties, costs and regulatory burden, and relative ineffectiveness of ‘policing’ measures.
  • In contrast to broadcasters, C/CSPs do not exert any ‘editorial’ or ‘programming’ control over the content of communications carried by their networks/services.
  • The responsibility of a communicating party to ensure that its communications comply with any applicable laws when carried over a telecommunications network/service.
  • By law, C/CSPs are not allowed to disclose the contents of a communication carried over a network. C/CSPs are also not required to inspect or collect the content of a communication (incl. under the new data retention regime).
  • C/CSPs retain text messages for a short period for operational purposes. The content of messages (en masse) is not inspected. An inspection of the content of a large number of text messages would be highly impracticable, technically extremely difficult and costly, impact on the delivery of the messages, and is lacking a legal basis.
  • C/CSPs are only allowed to intercept phone conversations in accordance with the provisions of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, i.e. under a warrant. Such interceptions are specifically targeted and the content of communications is delivered to the requesting Agency for recording and analysis.

De-registration of the Calling Number Display Code and replacement by the Calling Number Display Guideline

Communications Alliance has published the Calling Number Display Guideline (G522:2016) which replaces the recently de-registered Calling Number Display Code (C522:2007). De-registration was proposed in light of the Government’s de-regulatory commitments and the principles espoused in the Communications Alliance “Framework for Customer Information Provisions”. The Guideline addresses privacy issues raised by Calling Line Identification (CLI) and Calling Number/Name Display (CND).

Key content changes from the Code to the Guideline include:

  • clarifying mobile services to be applicable as part of the Standard Telephone Service;
  • updates as a result of the introduction of the Australian Privacy Principles;
  • rectifying an error introduced in the previous version of the Code concerning how the obligations for permanent line blocking are applied to fixed line and mobile services;
  • limiting the scope of the new Guideline to residential and small business customers, as defined by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, to align with the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code.
  • reflecting the calling line identification (CLI) obligations of s354 of the Telecommunications Act 1997; and updating references from ‘ACIF’ to ‘Communications Alliance’

As part of the de-registration of the Calling Number Display Code, industry, with assistance from Comms Alliance, has agreed to:

  • monitor any changes in availability of CND features and the information about these features on a quarterly basis for the next 12 to 18 months; and
  • engage with the relevant consumer bodies to develop CND information materials targeting consumers in vulnerable circumstances and circulate these amongst relevant parties.

Communications Alliance Welcomes Local Number Portability Code Variation No.1/2016

Communications Alliance welcomes the registration of the variation to the Local Number Portability Code (C540:2013), by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The variations made to the Code were to:

  • remove the need for Wholesale Service Providers to participate in Service Account Validation; and
  • remove the requirement to Reject where a Service Account Number is not associated to the telephone number(s).

Communications Alliance thanks the working committee for its efforts in testing and developing the required variations to the Code and the ACMA staff and Authority for their assistance with the registration of the variation.

User Requirements for Future Local, Mobile and 18/13 Number Portability for Australia
- Request for Comments

Since the first definition of number portability solutions, technologies and the telecommunications market in general have undergone significant change. Customer expectations are shifting towards minimal or no delays in porting, and service providers are under increasing cost pressures and require less complex solutions, particularly with regards to the porting of local numbers.

Against this background, the Communications Alliance WC50 Number Portability – Future IP Model Working Committee has developed an issues paper User Requirements for entitled Future Local, Mobile and 18/13 Number Portability for Australia. The paper identifies the user requirements for future number portability solutions, with a starting assumption that a single solution may be applicable across local, mobile and 18/13 number types. The paper also considers number portability requirements designed for an all-IP environment from the perspective of various users – both end users of services and service providers involved in supplying voice services and delivering voice calls.

Comments are welcome from end users of telecommunications services, equipment suppliers and carriers and carriage service providers. Noting in particular the following questions:

  • Are the assumptions reasonable; and
  • Are the use cases sufficient – or are any others required to be included?

Comments received will be considered by the members of WC50 and used to assist in the evaluation of future number portability solutions.

A copy of the paper can be found here on the Communications Alliance website.
Comments can be submitted via the Submit Comments Form.

Comments on the documents are requested by 5 p.m. (AEDT) on Friday 25 November 2016.

Communications Essentials: Artificial Intelligence

Save the Date: 7 December 2016

This seminar will explore the rise of Artificial Intelligence and its implications for the telco sector.

More details to follow.

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