Telco powers extended for nuisance callers

Telecommunications providers now have the power to suspend services if they have a customer that persists in making unwelcome calls, or sending nuisance text messages or e-mails.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has registered an industry code that clarifies how life-threatening and unwelcome calls are handled by carriage service providers.

ACMA chairman Lyn Maddock said carriage service providers have greater power to take action when such calls are made, including SMS and e-mail communications.

"If a consumer receives a series of nuisance calls or a life-threatening call, there is a clear sequence of steps to be taken by the carriage service provider to assist in the resolution of the issue," Maddock said.

The code now allows carriage service providers to suspend the telecommunications services of consumers who persist in making unwelcome calls, text messages or e-mails.

"If warnings to the offending party are ignored, switching off services after a final warning was issued is a significant improvement," she said.

The ACIF C525:2006 Handling of Life Threatening and Unwelcome Calls Code was developed by the Australian Communications Industry Forum, now a division of the Communications Alliance. The registration of the code makes it enforceable by ACMA, as the regulator.

Communications Alliance CEO, Anne Hurley, said it was particularly significant that the code covered not only phone calls but non-real-time communications such as SMS, Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) and e-mail.

"As new services become more popular we need to be vigilant so service providers and law enforcement agencies can protect the public from people who use these emerging technologies to threaten and harass others," Hurley said.

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