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The Federal Government is developing reforms to give consumers greater access and control over their data held by companies they do business with, like banks, energy companies and telcos. The Consumer Data Right will allow customers to transfer their data to different providers to see if those providers offer products that would be more suitable, at a better price.

For consumers, greater use and control of their data could provide significant benefits through helping them to find services they need at reduced prices.

In this consultation, The Treasury is asking for comments on the draft legislation that will underpin the consumer data right, before the legislation is introduced into Federal Parliament.

The Federal Government is reviewing consumer protections in telecommunications. The aim is to ascertain whether existing arrangements will be fit for purpose in an environment where NBN is the underlying infrastructure provider, and consumer use of services has changed considerably since the existing framework was developed. The review is divided into three parts – Redress and Complaints Handling; Reliability; and Choice and Fairness. The Department of Communications and the Arts will conduct and complete the review in 2018.

Part A: Redress and Complaints Handling

The first consultation examined existing regulatory and institutional arrangements to support internal and external dispute resolutions, identified a number of problems with how these apply in practice, and put forward proposals for change.

The review of the Telecommunications Consumer Protections (TCP) Code has been underway since August 2017. The Code sets out rules for how retail service providers must deal with their customers. It covers sales, customer service, contracts, billing, credit and debt management, financial hardship, and transfers between providers.

The Code is reviewed periodically to ensure it reflects current market offers, trends and consumer needs. ACCAN is a part of the Working Committee (comprised of industry, consumer, government and regulatory representatives) for the review and has consulted widely with its members throughout this process.

A draft TCP Code was recently released for public comment. ACCAN’s submission to this consultation focused on the need to improve consumer protection by strengthening the requirements on providers in a range of key areas. In particular ACCAN would like to see better practices for:

The Regional Telecommunications Review is conducted every three years and is an important forum for examining telecommunications issues and equity of services in regional, rural and remote Australia.

Since the last review in 2015 the rollout of the National Broadband Network in regional areas has almost been completed, and communities and consumers are starting to see the benefits of greater investment in regional and remote telecommunications services. However, for many people in regional and remote Australia the digital divide remains entrenched. There is a need for further investment in infrastructure, targeted affordability measures and digital literacy support programs to close this divide.

In our submission ACCAN has outlined emerging or persistent issues and recommended actions on how these might be addressed. These include:

ACCAN recently submitted to the Department of Communications and the Arts consultation on Copyright Modernisation. The modernisation of copyright has the potential to bring significant benefits to consumers and ACCAN supports reforms to ensure that consumers are appropriate protected and can have confidence when interacting with the copyrighted material.

In our submission, we reiterated our support for reforms including:

ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) consultation on the Competition Notice Guidelines. ACCAN’s submission forms part of ACCAN’s ongoing work to support competition in the telecommunications industry in order to promote better outcomes for consumers and small businesses. 

The Competition and Consumer Act (Cth) provides for an industry-specific regulatory framework for telecommunications. This gives the ACCC power to issue a competition notice, which is a formal ‘stop’ notice to a provider who is suspected of acting anti-competitively. If a provider does not comply with a notice they face substantial fines - $10m, plus $1m per day for non-compliance.

The New South Wales Law Reform Commission (NSWLRC) has been asked to review and report on access to digital assets upon death or incapacitation. Digital assets can include images, videos, emails, online banking accounts, cryptocurrency, domain names, blogs and online gaming accounts.

The creation of digital accounts, use of digital media and services is common practice amongst Australian consumers. Despite the many ways Australian consumers engage with digital media and online services, there are inadequate legal protections for them and their digital assets after death. This raises questions about the digital legacy deceased Australians leave behind and what should be done to manage it.

The ACMA is developing new rules to protect consumers migrating to the NBN, as announced late last year. The ACMA has now consulted on all five measures which focus on improving the way the telco industry handles consumer complaints, the provision of information to consumers, and ensuring that consumers have access to a working service.


ACCAN has submitted on the: Complaints Handling Standard, Record Keeping Rules, Consumer Information Standard, Line Testing Determination, and Service Continuity Standard.

ACCAN recently submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) consultation on the declaration of the Domestic Transmission Capacity Service (DTCS).Declaring the DTCS means that wholesale transmission prices on certain routes are regulated by the ACCC. Low DTCS prices means more service providers and more competition.

The Federal Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee on the National Broadband Network is inquiring into the rollout of the NBN in rural and regional areas, focusing on the capacity and reliability of NBN satellite, fixed wireless and fixed line networks. ACCAN has submitted to the inquiry, presenting the major concerns of rural, regional and remote consumers and small business.

Some of the main issues and recommendations in our submission are:

ACCAN submitted to the Treasury’s consultation on the final Open Banking Report and the proposed regulatory framework for the national Consumer Data Right, proposed by the Productivity Commission in its Data Availability and Use inquiry. The Consumer Data Right will oblige organisations to provide consumers with the data that is held about them in a machine-readable format.

As part of its response to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry, the Government announced that the Treasurer would lead the development of the Consumer Data Right, which will be developed first in the banking sector, and then in the energy and telecommunications sectors in late 2018.

ACCAN has an interest in the current consultation as the development of the CDR in banking and its rollout will influence the development and establishment of a right to consumer data more broadly, including in the telecommunications sector.

The .au Domain Administration, auDA, the body that manages internet domain names in Australia, is currently reviewing the domain name policies for Australia’s country code .au through an open policy process. ACCAN has submitted to the Policy Review Panel putting the views that:

  • Australian presence requirements should be strengthened
  • Reserved names should respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander names
  • Monetisation should not exist in any new top level registrations
  • Geographic names should be available more broadly, but with protections
  • Existing second levels should be preserved (net.au and asn.au) with others opened up
  • Any changes to WHOIS should incorporate free or low cost access for consumer organisations
  • Domain name suspension policies should be possible for well evidenced misuse and abuse