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Phone Rights appSince launching in 2013, ACCAN's My Phone Rights app has helped thousands of Australians to better understand their rights as telecommunications consumers. The guides and tips in the app cover a range of topics that are helpful to all telecommunications consumers. My Phone Rights is available now for free on Android and Apple iOS devices.

With the app turning two this year, we thought it was time to revamp the tips and advice to keep up to date with the latest information. After all, the telco industry changes at such a rapid pace.

The app has advice for consumers and also small businesses on how to resolve common phone and internet issues including issues with contracts, bill shock, global roaming and data charges.

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Beginning 14 April 2015, the ABC will start trialling Audio Description on its iview online catch-up service. The trial will provide approximately 14 hours of audio described content each week and is expected to run for 15 months.

Audio Description is additional verbal narration that describes visual elements shown on screen during pauses in dialogue. It can describe elements such as scenes, costumes and actions.

Audio Description is important and useful for people with a vision impairment and people with a learning disability as it helps to enhance their understanding of what is happening on screen.

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The recent Federal Court decision in the Dallas Buyers Club case is the first of its kind in Australia. The decision means that the internet service providers (ISPs) involved – iiNet and others – will now have to give the Dallas Buyers Club rights holder, Voltage Pictures, the contact information of account holders who allegedly downloaded a pirated copy of the film.

Once this information is handed over, Voltage Pictures is able to send account holders a letter about the activity they allege has happened. In this case the Federal Court is reviewing all letters Voltage Pictures will be sending to account holders to make sure there is no 'speculative invoicing'. This is a fancy name for a demand for money to be paid to the rights holder for pirating the film. These letters might say that the company will take you to court if you don't pay. Speculative invoicing has been used overseas in the US, Canada and UK to intimidate consumers into paying compensation for claims of illegal file sharing.

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The Federal Government's data retention scheme, enacted in March 2015, will come into effect between 13 October 2015 and 12 April 2017. Our fact sheet covers what consumers need todata binary code abstract with police badge shaped keyhole know.

What is metadata?

Metadata, simply put, is 'data about data'. In telecommunications it is information about communications (e.g. the time a phone call was made and its duration), information about the people communicating (e.g. the sender and the receiver) including account and location information, and the device used. The scheme requires that service providers retain metadata but not the content or substance of a communication. However metadata can still reveal a lot of information about an individual and those they interact with.

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The ACCAN Grants Scheme opened this morning and is now accepting applications until Tuesday 31st March.

If you're interested in creating educational resources for phone or internet consumers or in researching an issue that affects them, get in touch with us to chat about your project idea. Call 02 9288 4000 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The most successful projects are those that have a good idea of the kind of work ACCAN does and understand the current telecommunications environment well. We look forward to hearing your ideas!

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Recently ACCAN attended the Yabun Festival, held on 26 January in Victoria Park, Sydney. Yabun is the largest one day celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Australia. This year it was attended by some 8,500 people coming from many places around Australia.

At the event we were able to share lots of useful information for consumers on topics including: hidden costs in free apps, how to avoid smartphone bill shock and how to choose an internet service provider.

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ACCAN has released the 2015 ACCAN Grants Guidelines ahead of the Scheme's opening on Monday 16th February 2015. The Scheme will be accepting applications for six weeks: from 16th February until 31st March 2015.

The ACCAN Grants Scheme funds projects that work towards a telecommunications market that is fair and inclusive for all – a market which is available, accessible and affordable. Projects focus on developing research, representation, or educational tools that address issues for telecommunications consumers in Australia.

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The Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code is a bulwark built by industry, consumer representatives and regulators to ensure appropriate consumer safeguards. Brought in two years ago some of its provisions only took effect in September 2014. It was designed to address ballooning consumer dissatisfaction with the telco industry. So the proposed removal of some of its most important components so soon after its introduction comes as a surprise.

Despite some major reservations, ACCAN feels many of the changes are appropriate and will streamline obligations and aid overall compliance. In one instance we even believe the reform process could go further to remove an unused area of the Code.

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ACCAN is now accepting Expressions of Interest to serve on its Independent Grants Panel. The role of the Panel is to assess eligible applications to the ACCAN Independent Grants Scheme and recommend the strongest to the ACCAN Board for funding.

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Picture showing map of Australia and voting box exclaiming 'What communications consumers need to know for the Federal Election 2016'

Find resouces on political party policies, election issues and more.