Global Information Technology & Communications
Australia - Repeat offenders in trouble with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
On 27 August 2014, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) directed 12 telecommunications companies to comply with consumer rules in the Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (the Code). The directions came after ACMA found that the telcos had contravened the Code, for failing to submit to Communications Compliance, the telecommunications compliance authority, a Customer Information Compliance Statement and a Compliance Attestation by 1 April 2014.
These documents are required to be submitted on an annual basis. The Customer Information Compliance Statement details how and where the public can access certain information, while the Compliance Attestation contains an endorsement that the company complies with the Code.
For those companies with no previous history of non-compliance, ACMA can issue formal warnings, as it did in September 2014 to almost 40 telecommunication companies for their first contravention of the compliance rules.
Directions to comply are stricter enforcement mechanisms as compared to formal warnings and are usually reserved for companies with a history of non-compliance, as is the case for each of these 12 companies. Any further breaches of the Code by repeat offenders can lead to an infringement notice being issued against them or Federal Court proceedings in serious cases which could involve a maximum penalty of $250,000.
With severe penalties for repeat offenders, these directions are evidence of ACMA's push to fully enforce the Code. However, despite these directions, the current trend and general level of compliance in the Australian market is improving. From 2013 to 2014, the number of complaints made to ACMA fell by over 12% and the number of telecommunications companies that lodged the required documents increased by over 45%.
For more information, please contact Anne-Marie Allgrove, Toby Patten or Jarrod Bayliss-McCulloch.