Disclosure requirements: obligations | ACMA

Disclosure requirements: obligations

Protecting the confidentiality of information is the responsibility of:

  • carriers

  • carriage service providers (CSPs)

  • internet service providers (ISPs)

  • number-database operators

  • telecommunications contractors

  • emergency call persons

  • public number directory publishers

  • research entities

Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act 1997 (the Telecommunications Act) creates offences for the use or disclosure of information or documents which comes into their possession in the course of business, where the information relates to:

  1. the contents of a communication that has been carried by carriers and CSPs (delivered or not)

  2. carriage services supplied by carriers and CSPs

  3. the affairs or personal details of another person

The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or $13,200 fine.

Secondary disclosures

People and organisations permitted to receive disclosures are prohibited from using information or documents they have received for purposes other than those for which the information was given.

The maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or $13,200 fine.

Disclosure exceptions

Exceptions in Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act or Chapter 4 of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) to the requirement not to disclose or use information or a document and these are set out below:

  1. the disclosure is required or otherwise authorised under a warrant (under the TIA Act) or under law

  2. the disclosure is made as a witness under subpoena

  3. the disclosure is made to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA), the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (the ACCC) or TUSMA to assist in carrying out their functions and powers

  4. the disclosure is made to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) to assist in the consideration of a complaint

  5. the disclosure is made to deal with calls to emergency service numbers

  6. the disclosure or use of the information is reasonably necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the life or health of a person

  7. the disclosure is made for maritime purposes, to preserve life or locate a vessel at sea

  8. the disclosure is made with the knowledge or consent of the person concerned

  9. the disclosure is made in circumstances prescribed in the regulations

  10. the disclosure is connected with exempt disclosures

  11. the disclosure is reasonably necessary for the enforcement of the criminal law or a law imposing a pecuniary penalty, or the protection of the public revenue

  12. the disclosure is reasonably necessary for access to existing information or documents in the enforcement of the criminal law

  13. the disclosure is reasonably necessary for access to existing information to deal with locating missing persons

  14. the disclosure is reasonably necessary for access to existing information or documents in the enforcement of a law imposing a pecuniary penalty, or the protection of the public revenue

  15. the disclosure is reasonably necessary for access to prospective information or documents

Under sections 306 and 306A of the Telecommunications Act, if a carrier, CSP or number-database operator discloses information or documents, certain records of that disclosure must be made and retained. The number of disclosures made during each financial year must also be reported to the ACMA within two months after the end of the financial year.

There are offences and penalties for:

  1. failing to keep records of disclosure (maximum $33,000 fine);

  2. making incorrect records (maximum 6 months imprisonment and/or $3300 fine).

Annual reporting as required by section 308 of the Telecommunications Act can be undertaken using the online form available from the ACMA website. The form sets out the kinds of disclosures that must be included in the report.

Last updated: 14 June 2017