Telecomms & law enforcement: obligations | ACMA

Telecomms & law enforcement: obligations

Under Part 14 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, carriers, carriage service providers (CSPs) and carriage service intermediaries are under an obligation to:

  1. prevent telecommunications network and facilities from being used in, or in relation to, the commission of offences against the laws of the Commonwealth or of the States and Territories

  2. give officers and authorities of the Commonwealth, States and Territories such help as is reasonably necessary for the enforcement of the criminal law (as well as for the enforcement of laws imposing pecuniary penalties and the protection of the public revenue).

The provision of assistance is to be on the basis that the person providing the help neither profits from, nor bears the cost of, giving that help. 

Resellers who arrange for carriage services to be supplied are carriage service intermediaries. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are CSPs.

Telecommunications obligations

In addition to the basic obligations set out above, there are also obligations under the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (the TIA Act) which is administered by the Attorney-General's Department:

  1. ensure that a network or a facility (used in the supply of a carriage service) has the interception capability to enable a communication passing over that network or facility to be intercepted in accordance with a warrant issued under the TIA Act.

    pay for that interception capability up to the point of interception. (Delivery and formatting are agency responsibilities)

  2. lodge an annual Interception Capability Plan with the Communications Access Co-ordinator(CAC - see below)

  3. Carriers and nominated CSPs are required to submit annual interception capability plans. These plans are to be lodged annually on 1 July each year unless an alternative date has been agreed to by the Communications Access Co-ordinator. Further information regarding Interception capability plans can be found here and any queries regarding this should be directed to the Attorney-General’s Department

    The CAC is an officer of the Attorney-General’s Department, as outlined in section 6R of the TIA Act. The CAC acts on behalf of all the national security and enforcement agencies.

Other obligations

IPND

Another relevant requirement is the service provider rule (Part 4 of Schedule 2 to the Telecommunications Act 1997) that states, where a CSP supplies a carriage service to an end-user and the end-user has a public number, the provider must provide the information that Telstra requires in order to maintain and provide the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND).

The information required will be, for example, end-user's name, address and telephone number, telephone's location where practicable, the name of the service provider providing the carriage service and whether the telephone is for government, private or public use.

These information requirements are set out in Clause 10 of Carrier Licence Conditions (Telstra Corporation Limited) Declaration 1997.

Register with the TIO

CSPs (including Internet Service Providers) are also obliged to register with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Identity checking for prepaid mobile services

Under the Telecommunications (Service Provider – Identity Checks for Prepaid Mobile Carriage Services) Determination 2013 (the Prepaid Determination) a CSP that supplies a prepaid mobile carriage service must not activate the service unless the CSP has obtained certain identifying information from the customer and verified the identity of the customer in accordance with the rules of the Prepaid Determination. Other requirements under the Determination include those relating to keeping records and the restrictions placed on the recording and copying certain information and the use of numbers.

CSPs must keep a record relating to each prepaid mobile service it supplies, and the record must be kept for as long as the service is activated.

Accurate information from customers of prepaid services supports law enforcement and national security agencies in their investigations, and assists timely responses by emergency services organisations (police, fire and ambulance services) to Triple Zero (000) emergency calls from prepaid services.

Where a CSP uses an authorised party to sell prepaid mobile services for the CSP, the CSP is ultimately responsible for complying with the requirements of the Prepaid Determination (see section 2.4 of the Determination).

A summary of the identity verification methods under the Determination is provided in this table:

Verifying the details of government-issued documents using government online verification services

(There could be significant lead-time for those CSPs adopting this method because of the IT, security and other requirements that need to be met in order to access government online verification services.)

Confirming the existence of:

>        an Australian financial account (credit/debit card) or

>        a trusted email address (edu.au, gov.au) or

>        an existing post-paid account (e.g. Broadband Internet)

Using a signed courier delivery to customer’s address

Collecting and, if required, sighting identification at the CSP’s or a third party retailer’s shop front (this is the time of sale method)

Alternative arrangements approved by the ACMA on application by the CSP (see Part 6 of the Prepaid Determination)

For more information on the identity-checking requirements for prepaid mobile carriage services:

>    Video: identity-checking for prepaid mobiles

>    the ACMA’s Prepaid Mobiles webpage

Or email: prepaidmobiles@acma.gov.au

Last updated: 28 July 2016