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ACMA puts telco industry on notice to improve consumer protections


The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has today put Australia’s telco industry on notice that it must significantly improve its consumer protection framework.

A public review of the industry’s Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code is currently being undertaken by the industry peak body, Communications Alliance, with an expectation that it will be registered by late 2024.

To inform this process, the ACMA today released a position paper setting out the regulator’s views on the current TCP Code and areas for improvement.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said the paper, What consumers want – Consumer expectations for telecommunications safeguards, sends a strong message to telcos.

“The ACMA has been concerned for some time that the current co-regulatory code is not delivering the level of consumer safeguards expected of an essential service,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“Our position paper shows that telcos are falling short of what customers want in key areas such as selling practices, credit assessments, payment methods, disconnection processes, financial hardship assistance and the treatment of consumers in vulnerable circumstances, including those experiencing domestic and family violence.

“I welcome today’s announcement from the Minister for Communications that she will direct the ACMA to make a directly enforceable instrument which establishes substantial protections for telco consumers experiencing financial hardship.

“Given the current impact of cost-of-living pressures we will move quickly to implement the new rules to give early and stronger protection for these consumers.

“Telco improvements on other matters raised in our position paper are also urgent and cannot wait until the proposed TCP Code review end date of late 2024.

“We expect the industry to demonstrate significant progress towards addressing these issues in the next six months. If the industry is unwilling to do so, we believe there is compelling evidence to support moving these protections into direct regulation.

“The ball is now squarely in industry’s court to make the necessary improvements to better protect their customers,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

Under direct regulation the ACMA will have a more powerful range of enforcement tools to ensure industry compliance including through remedial directions, enforceable undertakings and financial penalties set by the Federal Court.

The ACMA position paper has been informed by regulatory monitoring, compliance and research activities, understanding of existing consumer safeguards, the findings of government and external research, and discussions with consumer advocates.

Protecting vulnerable telco customers, including those experiencing financial hardship or domestic or family violence, is among the ACMA compliance priorities for 2023-24 announced last week.

MR 21/2023

For more information, please contact ACMA Media on 0438 375 776 or

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