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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has undertaken a review of the captioning obligations in Part 9D of the Broadcasting Services Act (1992) as prescribed in the legislation. ACCAN participated in the consultation in a written submission. Our response to the review reiterates ACCAN’s long-held view that accurate and comprehensible captions on broadcast television are essential for full and equitable access to our foremost medium for news, information and entertainment for all those Australians who rely on captions when viewing television.

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) came in five years ago to help protect consumers. It is now being reviewed to make sure it is up to date.

ACCAN made 11 recommendations to the ACL Review. We want to make sure the ACL keeps pace with a number of new issues affecting communications consumers. Technology is ever changing and can lead to many benefits for consumers, sometimes laws struggle to keep up with these changes. ACCAN’s submission calls for a closer look at some of these gaps in the law, especially around digital marketplaces and new hybrid goods and services provided as part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

In March 2016 the Department of Communications and the Arts released an options paper: ‘Communications Accessibility: 2016 and Beyond’. The paper proposed a number of options related to the ongoing sustainability of the National Relay Service. The use of the National Relay Service over the past couple of years has increased due to the significant improvements to the service through the introduction of a number of new relay services.

Industry lobby, Communications Alliance, has proposed a number of changes to the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code compliance regime. ACCAN believes the changes may lead to a number of positive changes which should both improve the efficiency of Communications Compliance and provide greater flexibility to smaller suppliers. However, we encouraged the industry group take further steps to address the lack of a publically available, useful performance metrics.

 

The Federal Government is planning to amend the Privacy Act to introduce a mandatory data breach notification scheme. The scheme would mean that all government agencies, and entities with an annual turnover of more than $3m, must notify everyone whose personal information was disclosed if they suffer a serious data breach. A data breach would be 'serious' if it results in a 'real risk of serious harm' to an individual or individuals. The scheme would allow people whose personal information has been compromised by a breach to take steps to lessen or avoid potential harms, such as financial loss or identity theft.

ACCAN made a submission to the Department of Communications and the Arts (DoCA) consultation on the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and Other Measures) Bill 2016 (the Act). We are broadly supportive of the proposed changes, as they overcome some of the barriers faced by people with a disability – and the organisations who provide services to them – in obtaining material in accessible formats.

New obligations on telecommunication infrastructure providers are proposed by the Department of Communications and the Arts. This is part of the policy for telecommunications services in new development. The obligations would ensure that new developments, not served by nbn or Telstra, would be served by a network which meets set standards. Furthermore information on the network would need to be made available via an online map for property buyers and developers to use.

ACCAN has contributed to the Department of Communications and the Arts review of the Captioning Regulatory Framework. The review proposes a number of deregulation options for caption compliance reporting; emergency warning captioning reporting and related issues. ACCAN has reiterated our long-standing position that broadcaster compliance reporting is essential for consumer protection. ACCAN has opposed removing compliance reporting, called for increased requirements for captioning of emergency warning broadcasts as well as calling for increased captioning across all free-to-air channels.

In 2014 the Vertigan panel made 53 recommendations on regulatory and market structure matters. The proposed legislation addresses recommendations made in relation to improvements in the access regime and nbn's authorised conduct. ACCAN expressed concern over three parts of the legislation.

ACCAN has made a submission to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) 2016 stakeholder consultation on "Access to the Internet for persons with disabilities and specific needs". Drawing from the ongoing work and research we undertake to promote full participation of people with disability in our increasingly connected society, we have made a number of specific recommendations on how access to the internet can be increased for people with disability.

The Productivity Commission is looking at Australia's intellectual property system to make sure there are the right incentives for innovation, investment and the production of creative works. The aim is that these protections for intellectual property owners' don't unreasonably stop consumers benefiting from innovation, competition, investment and access to goods and services.

ACCAN responded to the ACMA's review of the Captioning Standard for live broadcasts. We recommended that the ACMA undertake research to establish current and possible metrics for accuracy levels and synchronisation of captions with the video for live broadcasts on Australian television. ACCAN asserts that this will allow stakeholders to make informed recommendations on how the ACMA should evaluate the quality of captions for live television broadcasts.