The Australian Communications and Media Authority notes some Australians may be contacted by phone, email or SMS in relation to the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
If these calls, emails or SMSs are not commercial—that is they do not have a commercial purpose—they are generally allowed and not required to comply with the obligations under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 and the Spam Act 2003. Communications about political matters do not usually include a commercial element.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics has a list of Marriage Law Postal Survey safeguards, which includes communications that require authorisation.
The Australian Electoral Commission also accepts complaints concerning breaches of authorisation. Make a complaint to the AEC here.
Concerning the ACMA’s role, if the communications do contain a commercial element, such as offering, advertising or promoting goods or services, then they might still be allowed if the communication was made by a body designated as exempt under the law. This will include messages from political parties, independent members of parliament (phone calls only), government bodies and registered charities.
Commercial calls, emails and SMSs from other organisations or individuals including lobby groups are likely to be prohibited unless consent from the recipient has been established. All telemarketing and research or opinion polling conducted by phone, regardless of who is conducting it, is covered by the additional consumer safeguards contained in the Telecommunications (Telemarketing and Research Calls) Industry Standard 2017. The Industry Standard includes strict rules about permitted calling times, what information must be provided by callers (including caller line identification), and when calls must be terminated.
Automated or robo calls
Automated or robo-calls are generally treated the same as calls made by a person—that is they are likely to be allowed if they are not commercial, or if they are commercial and are made by an exempt body like a political party. Regardless of the exemptions, the obligations under the Industry Standard about permitted calling times of the day, identification and termination apply to all telemarketing and research calls.
Use of caller line identification and spoofing
Spoofing is where the caller line identification (CLI) on phones is overwritten to block or obscure the caller’s number. CLI’s may also be overwritten to provide different information. Under the Industry Standard, telemarketing and research and opinion polling calls must have CLI enabled and the number provided must be capable of being called by the recipient to obtain specific details about the caller. Calls that are not made for telemarketing or research purposes may have the calling number overwritten or blocked without necessarily breaking the law.