Unsolicited communications priority compliance 2017–18 | ACMA

Unsolicited communications priority compliance 2017–18

The ACMA provides important safeguards in relation to unsolicited communications—spam, telemarketing and fax marketing. These safeguards are set out in the:

As part of our approach to promoting compliance, we identify industry sectors or issues for regulatory focus as our priority compliance areas (PCAs).

In 2017–18, our unsolicited communications PCAs are:

  1. solar industry-related telemarketing
  2. registered charities’ compliance with the Telemarketing Industry Standard and the Spam Act
  3. consent-based marketing practices.

How are our PCAs selected?

Our PCAs are decided with reference to consumer reports and complaints, market research and intelligence from key stakeholders, including industry and international counterparts.

Our compliance and enforcement work is not necessarily limited to these three areas—we will also respond to other issues to ensure that serious or systemic compliance issues are dealt with promptly.

What are we doing about the priority areas?

For each PCA, we undertake targeted education, compliance and enforcement action, including:

  • educating relevant industries or sectors about unsolicited communications compliance obligations and best practice
  • raising awareness among citizens about what the rules are, what they can do to protect themselves and where they can report non-compliance
  • working with industry bodies, other government agencies, and consumer groups to support greater compliance and improve understanding about the rules
  • taking compliance and enforcement action in response to potential breaches of the rules.

PCA 1: Solar industry-related telemarketing

We receive a significant number of complaints about telemarketing calls relating to solar products and services. Telemarketing is conducted both by businesses directly selling their products and services, and by other companies known as ‘lead generators’. Lead generators make calls to see if people are interested in products or services, and then sell these details to solar businesses as potential customers. Some of these businesses may be located off-shore.

In 2017–18, we will work with industry bodies to educate solar businesses about their obligations, best practice telemarketing, and how to avoid using non-compliant marketing practices.

We may also investigate where there is evidence of potential non-compliance. Where breaches are found, there can be significant financial penalties.

PCA 2: Registered charities

Under the DNCR Act, registered charities are exempt from some unsolicited communications rules. For example, they can conduct telemarketing to numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register.

However, registered charities still need to comply with the strict rules in the Telemarketing Industry Standard. This includes obligations about permitted calling times, the information that must be provided in a call, and when calls must be terminated. Registered charities must also adhere to specific rules under the Spam Act.

Feedback from industry and consumers suggests that there may be confusion about which rules apply to charities. To help ensure that registered charities know which rules apply, we are working closely with other regulators and industry bodies.

We will also raise awareness among citizens about these rules, how they can protect themselves and how they can report non-compliance if the rules are broken.  

We are particularly interested in receiving information from consumers and industry about non-compliance with the obligations contained in the Telemarketing Industry Standard, including where calls have been made outside of permitted times. Information about how to make a complaint or enquiry is at the end of this page.

PCA 3: Consent-based marketing practices

In Australia, telemarketing, fax marketing and spam regulations include rules about consent. For example, telemarketers can generally call numbers on the Do Not Call Register if they have consent from the account holder. Similarly, businesses and organisations can generally send commercial electronic messages (email and SMS) to accounts if they have consent.

Consent can be express (signing up to a mailing list), or inferred (usually customers of that business). Information about telemarketing consent and spam consent  is on the ACMA website.

Consent-based marketing can occur in different ways. For example, when a consumer signs up to a mailing list, the terms and conditions may include consent to receive marketing information, including from third parties, sometimes called affiliates. This means that some consumers who sign up to competitions, surveys and rewards may start receiving marketing calls or messages from a wide range of businesses.

While we do see some excellent examples of best practice in consent-based marketing practices, we are also aware that its use can present challenges for consumers, businesses and regulators.  

To address this, we’ll be engaging with marketers and industry bodies about their obligations and to promote best practice. We’ll also undertake targeted education activities to raise awareness among citizens about how to make informed decisions about consent, how to withdraw permission, and how to report it when they believe the rules have been broken.

Want to know more?

If you would like more information about Australia’s Do Not Call Register and telemarketing rules, or would like to lodge a complaint or enquiry, visit www.donotcall.gov.au or call 1300 792 958.

If you would like to know more about Australia’s spam laws, or would like to lodge a complaint, visit the ACMA website. You can also report spam directly to the ACMA by forwarding spam emails to report@submit.spam.acma.gov.au or forwarding SMS messages to 0429 999 888.

Last updated: 06 September 2018