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Most Australian consumers must currently pay a monthly fee of $2.93 or more for a “Silent Line” to make sure that their phone number will not be published in the White Pages. The fee effectively charges people for their privacy and is a particular problem for low-income consumers and victims of crime, harassment or violence. While Telstra has recently proposed an exemption to the Silent Line for customers facing security threats, ACCAN's position remains that the fee should be removed for all consumers.

Summary
In our submission, ACCAN argued in support of the general prohibition on a Silent-Line fee, on several grounds:

  • Telstra’s recently proposed exemption will not cover all vulnerable consumers — low income consumers are not covered by the exemption, and it is not clear that customers facing security threats will receive the exemption unless they have a protection order or are clients of a community service organisation that supports people who are facing security threats;
  • Other providers also charge a fee for Silent Lines, and an internal Telstra policy will not prevent this;
  • All consumers, not just vulnerable consumers, should be able to have their details left out of the White Pages and directory assistance free of charge; and
  • The regulations surrounding the White Pages are unnecessarily complex, leading to confusion around consumers’ rights.

More about the Senate Standing Committee's Inquiry: http://bit.ly/10CXrnF

Submitted to: Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications

Status: Submitted

Download: docxACCAN Silent Lines submission817.1 KB

Download: pdfACCAN Silent Lines submission207.41 KB