The ACMA is required to maintain a Register of industry codes (the Register) and a Register of industry standards under section 136 of Part 6 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.
The Register currently contains a list of and links to the 22 industry codes registered under Part 6 of the Act. It also contains codes thathave been replaced or removed. The Register will be updated when the status of any document is varied and when new information related to industry codes or industry standards is received.
What are industry codes and industry standards?
Among the objects of the Act is to promote the:
- long-term interests of end users of telecommunications services
- the efficiency and international competitiveness of the Australian telecommunications industry
- the greatest practicable use of industry self-regulation.
Part 6 of the Act provides a key plank of the new industry self-regulatory regime through a scheme of industry codes.
Industry codes can be developed by telecommunications industry bodies on any matter that relates to a telecommunications activity, which is defined very widely in section 109 of the Act. Codes can be submitted to the ACMA by industry bodies for registration and, where the ACMA is satisfied that the code meets stipulated criteria, it is obliged to include the code on a codes register.
Where the ACMA considers a code to be necessary or convenient to provide appropriate community safeguards, or otherwise deal with the performance or conduct of the telecommunications industry, it may request that a representative industry body develop one and present it for registration. In the event that the code is not developed or does not meet the registration criteria, the ACMA may develop an industry standard—compliance with which is mandatory.
The ACMA's powers
Under normal circumstances, compliance by industry participants with a registered code is voluntary. However, the ACMA may employ its safety net powers under sections 121 and 122 to ensure compliance with registered codes. These powers enable the ACMA to issue formal warnings to industry participants regarding breaches of the code and also to direct industry participants to comply with the provisions of a code where the code has been, or is being, contravened.
ACMA warnings and directions to comply with a registered code can be issued to any participant in a section of the industry that is contravening the code. This is whether or not that participant has voluntarily agreed to comply with the registered code, is a member of the industry body which has developed the code or is a signatory to the code. A breach of an ACMA direction to comply may attract civil penalty provisions.
The ACMA is obliged under section 136 of the Act to maintain a Register that includes:
- all industry codes required to be registered under Part 6 of the Act
- all industry standards
- all requests made under section 118
- all notices under section 119
- all directions given under section 121.