New Do Not Call Legislation Proposal Has Serious Hang Ups

DO NOT CALL

It’s ironic. The call centre company that operates the Do Not Call Register in Australia has just been fined $110,000 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority for…you guessed it…breaching the Do Not Call Register Act.

It’s a hard lesson and a wake-up call for every company to be compliant when it comes to checking numbers against the Do Not Call Register. But at the same time changes are afoot with the current Do Not Call Register that are going to make this a lot harder.

The Federal Government is planning to increase the amount of time that a number remains on the DNC Register from five years to indefinitely. This would mean that once a telephone number is listed on the DNC Register, it will remain there indefinitely unless it is identified as being either disconnected or reassigned to a new person.

So how will the DNC register operator be able to identify telephone numbers that have been disconnected or reassigned? The answer that is being proposed is to use a database known as the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND). This database is intended to list all telephone numbers in Australia and also identify when a telephone number has been disconnected or reassigned.  The problem is that this database is incomplete and inaccurate, and therefore not a reliable source to determine which telephone numbers should be removed from the DNC Register.

The result is that there would not be an effective way to remove disconnected or reassigned numbers from the DNC Register – instead those telephone numbers would remain there indefinitely and not be contactable by organisations.

More expensive to de-dupe

To add insult to injury – the price for screening the Do Not Call register is set to increase substantially. Why? Apparently the cost of performing a simple de-duplication between the IPND and the DNC Register – thereby removing telephone numbers that have been disconnected or reassigned – will increase costs somewhere between 30- 70%.  Being marketers we know that this is a hugely overinflated cost for a relatively simple process.

This needs to be addressed. The DNC Register should be run as a consumer protection measure – not a profit-making enterprise. Such costs not only impact negatively on business but also affect the 300,000+ individuals employed by this sector – many of whom are in rural areas. Such jobs become untenable if the costs to run the business are too high.

So what’s next? ADMA is working on this issue to highlight the absurdity of charging businesses more to access an increasingly inaccurate DNC Register. We are also demonstrating the impact on business, jobs and the economy. We can’t agree to having numbers on the register indefinitely until we have a low cost, more effective means of ensuring disconnected and reassigned numbers are removed. Every company in Australia has a legal obligation to keep their databases accurate and up-to-date – it’s time for the same rules to apply to the DNC!

If you would like to receive updates on this issue, please follow David Simon (~DS), ADMA Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs on ADMA Twitter.

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