National telemarketing standards and the Do Not Call Register explained

The Do Not Call Register (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006 accompanies the Do Not Call Register Bill 2006. It will provide for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to make national standards which will regulate aspects of the making of telemarketing calls.

Currently, telemarketers operate under a number of different rules established by industry bodies on a voluntary basis, State and Territory laws, as well as some Commonwealth legislation. A national legislative framework for telemarketing would provide a single regulatory framework for the
telemarketing industry and to consumers.
The national standards would apply to all telemarketers, including those organisations which are exempt from the prohibition on making unsolicited telemarketing calls.
The standards are expected to be in force from early 2007.

The Do Not Call Register

The Do Not Call Register Bill provides for the establishment of a Do Not Call Register. The Register would be
kept by ACMA or outsourced to a third party who would operate the Register on behalf of the ACMA. It provides a system
whereby individuals can register their home and mobile numbers on the Register.

A telephone number is eligible to be entered on the Do Not Call  Register if:

(a) it is an Australian number; and

(b) it is used or maintained exclusively or primarily for private or  domestic purposes; and

(c) it is not used or maintained exclusively for transmitting  and/or receiving faxes.

Registration of a telephone number on the Do Not Call  Register remains in force for 3 years at a time.

Telemarketers who wish to make telemarketing calls will in effect be required to check their calling lists against the numbers registered on the Do Not Call Register to ensure that they do not contact numbers of individuals who have opted out of receiving telemarketing calls.

Complaints relating to the Do Not Call Register and breaches of the Bill can be made to the ACMA. ACMA will have the power to take out injunctions or seek civil penalties against offenders.

What is a telemarketing call?

Telemarketing calls are voice calls made with the purpose to offer, supply, provide, advertise or promote goods or services for land or an interest in land; or a business opportunity or investment opportunity; or to solicit donations. Telemarketing calls include messages for which the commercial/marketing element may be a secondary purpose, not necessarily the primary purpose of the call, such as calls which may be primarily designed to gauge customer satisfaction, but have a secondary purpose of soliciting sales.

The key principle is that unsolicited telemarketing calls must not be made to a number registered on the Do Not Call Register without consent.
However "designated marketing calls" will be permitted.

What is consent?

Consent means:

(a) express consent; or

(b) consent that can reasonably be inferred from:

(i) the conduct; and

(ii) the business and other relationships;

of the individual or organisation concerned.

How long does consent last for?

(a) express consent is given; and

(b) the consent is not expressed to be for a specified period or for an indefinite period;

the consent is taken to have been withdrawn at the end of the period of 3 months beginning on the day on which the consent was  given.

Consent may not be inferred from the publication of a telephone number.

What is "a designated telemarketing call "?

A designated telemarketing call is exempt from the restrictions.
Calls by a government body, a religious organisation, a charity or charitable institution, Political parties, independent members of parliament, candidates and educational institutions may be exempt in certain circumstances.

More background 

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