Senator Stephen Conroy has announced an amendment to the Do Not Call Register Amendment Bill 2009 that could potentially see the length of time between re-registrations to the list increased.
The proposed amendment, currently before Parliament, addresses concerns over the re-registration process that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) requires users to complete every three years in order to remain on the register. As late as last month, ACMA warned that only a quarter of the mobile phone numbers on the list had re-registered.
The Do Not Call Register, which began operation in May 2007 and currently holds 4 million numbers, allows users to halt cold calls from telemarketers by adding their number to a list. However, few realise that the list only holds those numbers for three years, after which the number is dropped from the register and users are once again prone to the cold calls.
The amendment will mean those first to register their numbers in 2007 would have until 2012 to re-register, rather than next month.
If the amendment is passed, Conroy would propose this re-registration process be delayed to a period of five years. Advocacy group Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has called for the register to hold numbers permanently.
However, the introduction of the latest amendment from Conroy has forced another proposal - the inclusion of business numbers to the register - off the Parliamentary schedule.
"The Government is keeping an open mind on this issue and intends to do further research and consultation with stakeholders," Conroy said in a statement.
ACMA has had to face off against several organisations for contacting some of the numbers on the list. Most recently, ACMA initiated legal proceedings with GoTalk over allegations the telco contacted more than 40,000 telephone numbers on the registry. The authority has also issued warnings and fines to Dodo Australia, Westpac and home insulators.
The authority also recently announced a formal inquiry into the telecommunications industry in an effort to address the high number of complaints received by both ACMA and the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
The TIO's connect.resolve report released last month indicated that complaint numbers had dropped toward the end of last year after record numbers in the 18 months prior. According to the report, Vodafone and Hutchison 3G were the only telcos surveyed to see an increase in complaints between January and December last year.
Acting ombudsman for the TIO Simon Cleary pledged support for the inquiry, and promised to contribute where possible.
"We are yet to see a significant reduction in these simple but fundamental issues,’’ he said.