Submission about Do Not Call Register

CPSA's submission to the Australian Government Department of Communications about the Optimal Period of Registration on the Do Not Call Register Discussion Paper.

Download: pdfDo Not Call Register submission445.76 KB

Key recommendations:

-      The current system that requires people to sign up to the Do Not Call Register should be replaced by a consent-based, opt-in system for telemarketing.

-      Telemarketers should be subject to the same provisions as those in the Spam Act 2003.

CPSA welcomes the opportunity to make comment on the ‘Optimal Period of Registration on the Do Not Call Register’ discussion paper.

CPSA is a strong supporter of the Do Not Call Register (the Register), which allows people to opt out of unwanted and unsolicited calls and faxes. This Register has proved to be highly-valued by our members and constituents who often feel targeted by telemarketers. Pensioners and older people are more likely to at home during the day and many can be vulnerable to signing up for products and services they do not need, and cannot afford, due to the high-pressure sales tactics used by many telemarketers. The Register also helps prevent people from falling prey to certain scams as people who have signed onto the register feel more confident in ending unsolicited phone calls. They also feel better placed to gauge whether a caller is a scammer or not, as they know they should not be receiving telemarketing calls/faxes.

With regards to unsolicited marketing faxes, there is an additional cost to consumers where they are effectively paying to be marketed to through paper and ink usage. This is something CPSA constituents are particularly frustrated by, particularly when they are conservative with their own resource usage to keep down costs.

As pointed out in the Discussion Paper, Optimal period of Registration on the Do Not Call Register, people are becoming increasingly fed up with unsolicited marketing in various forms.  This has been made clear by not only the high rates of people signing up to the Register (5 million landline numbers and 3.85 million mobile phone numbers) but also by the fact that only 3 per cent of people surveyed indicated that unsolicited marketing doesn’t bother them. [1] Furthermore people regard such communications as a misuse of their information. The 2013 OIAC Research Report Community Attitudes to Privacy found that 96 percent of respondents felt that their details being obtained by an organisation they hadn’t dealt with constituted a misuse of information. Ninety-seven percent felt the same way when they supplied their information to an organisation for a specific purpose and it was used it for another.[2]

For this reason CPSA calls for the removal of the need to register so that the inconvenience and intrusiveness of telemarketers cease. An opt-in system for telemarketing is in the public’s best interest and would ensure that only people who wish to receive telemarketing via phone and fax do so. In this way businesses would also ensure that there were reaching an interested audience that is more likely to purchase the product.

CPSA is strongly against suggestions to reduce the registration period from eight years to three years. The need to re-register, particularly if the period of time is reduced, negatively affects more vulnerable people, who are susceptible to purchasing goods and services that are not in their best interests.

CPSA does not believe that the arguments put forward about negative impacts of inaccuracies in the Register are valid. It is increasingly unlikely that some phone numbers on the Register were not put there by the current owner because people are now likely to retain their phone number if they change carriers. Furthermore, it is incredibly unlikely that a person who has acquired a phone number that is already on the Register would feel like they are missing out on telecommunication sales. If only two percent of survey respondents enjoyed unsolicited marketing material, CPSA believes it is safe to say that someone whose number is on the Register will either appreciate it or not miss phone calls they haven’t signed up for.

CPSA sees it as most appropriate for the Government to adopt Option 4 outlined in the Discussion Paper – remove the need to register – and to adopt provisions similar to those in the Spam Act 2003 which prohibits the sending of commercial electronic message unless the recipient has consented to the sending of the message. This has prevented the public from being inundated with advertising material they have not signed up for and has been very well received. Telemarketing is more intrusive than electronic marketing. It can involve people being contacted while in their own home.  People, particularly older people and those who are more vulnerable, can be reluctant to ignore or end the phone call as they do not want to be rude to the caller, or because they are coerced into staying on the line and potentially purchasing something by the caller. In essence, it is much more difficult to ignore than a text message or email. For this reason, CPSA proposes that the need to register be removed and all phone and fax numbers be prevented from receiving unsolicited marketing by default. 

 


Australian Government Department of Communications (December 2013), Optimal period of registration on Do Not Call Register, p.9.

Australian Government Office of Australian Information Commissioner (2013), Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey Research Report, p. 19.