Telecommunications privacy and related issues: telemarketing, a
Do-Not-Call registry for Australia, Internet censorship and a
systematic review of which matters are most suitable for government
regulation or self-regulation.
There is a CV describing my background in telecommunications, advocacy,
consulting etc. ../robin/cv.html
Censorship 29 April 1999. My brief
the Senate Information Technology Committee on the folly of Senator
bill to censor web sites, ostensibly to protect children. senate-it/scit_rw3.html
In 1998 the ACCC is accepted an
Australian Direct Marketing "Code of Conduct" which would give
to outbound telemarketers calling 362 days a year, 8AM to 9PM. See the tm/ directory for the
information on this and on a similar process in 2005.
Registry In late 2005, the Department
released a discussion paper on how telemarketing in Australia might be
regulated by a Do-Not-Call system to protect people at home and at
work. See the dnc/ directory for my
submission to DCITA.
Activated Malicious Call Trace Some material from
old website is here: mct/ . Please
also read more updated material in my Do-Not-Call submission.
- A big submission to a Senate Inquiry which
most of the issues I have been involved between 1992 and 1998.
The Link list is an excellent Australian discussion forum for
policy issues, especially privacy, censorship and cryptography:
on Information Technology
Commencing in January 1998, the Committee is inquiring into the
of self-regulatory schemes in the information and communications
The home page for the Committee is http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/it_ctte/index.htm
. This Committee is the successor to that which inquired several times
into Internet content regulation matters - the (deep breath now . . . )
Senate Select Committee on Community Standards Relevant to the Supply
Services Utilising Telecommunications Technologies .
(My submission is also available as a Microsoft
Word document, or an RTF
Electronic Frontiers of Australia, http://www.efa.org.au
, have their submission available at: http://www.efa.org.au/Publish/Welcome.html.
The Hansard of the Committee's hearings, in .PDF format, are at
the Hansard site. An HTML copy of part of the 27 April hearings, in
Adelaide, with two witnesses from Electronic Frontiers of Australia,
one from the West Australian Internet Association is here.
My submission has three main aspects:
Here is the Summary of my submission, followed by the table of
- An analysis of the different forms of regulation - legislation,
and forced-self-regulatory - the latter when the governments tells an
to regulate itself on threat of legislative controls if it fails to do
- Criteria for choosing, on an industry-by-industry basis (or
the problem - there is not always a specific "industry" involved) what
form of regulation is best.
- Case histories of many of the issues I have been involved in
- plus some new ones, such as the problem of mass-media privacy
which is one that the Committee is particularly interested in.
While self-regulation may have certain advantages, in those industries
where the participants cannot easily be identified and/or in which
is widespread disrespect for the public, the costs, complications and
regulatory regimes are an unjustifiable burden on society. This
self-regulatory trend is often part of a larger fashion for government
to shirk its regulatory responsibilities. In other cases,
is proposed where no regulation is
needed at all - for instance Internet content regulation - saving the
government from taking responsibility for the unpopular and
restrictions it seeks to impose on the public.
This submission proposes criteria for determining whether formal
is required - and if it is required, for determining whether it should
be accomplished directly by government, by an industry developed
approach, or by an industry based "forced-self-regulatory" approach
to meet government priorities, on threat of legislative
Case-studies are presented covering areas in need of better regulation,
or which are proposed to be regulated by one means or another and which
should not be.
There are many areas in which government in recent years has
to protect the public from threats which are amenable to systematic
regulation, and which individuals cannot defend themselves
Sometimes this is manifested by an ineffective self-regulatory
In other cases it is manifested by the problem falling between the
and never being officially recognised. The common themes seem to
- Governments instinctively regulating communications which seem
its narrow sense of "community values".
- Governments seeing all business activity as good - and adopting
policy of minimal regulation in order to remove barriers to business
- As an extension of this, and under the rubric of reducing
cutting the budgets of regulatory agencies and departments whose work
policy research and development.
- Governments being fundamentally uninterested in the privacy of
Page numbers in green are for the Word version.
1 - Introduction 3
2 - When the public needs to be protected, what forms of
are there? 5
Market forces and self-defence - ie. no formal regulation 5
3 - Government's contract with the people 9
Industry informal regulation - eg. ISPs refusing to support disruptive
Industry formal self-regulation without government involvement 7
Industry self-regulation - forced by the government 7
Regulation by government 8
4 - Criteria for deciding whether there needs to be
5 - Strengths and weaknesses of government regulation, industry
6 - Criteria for deciding between legislation and government
backed "self-regulation" 29
7 - Governments shirking their responsibilities to regulate 31
8 - Governments regulating inappropriately 34
9 - Case studies 35
Federal privacy regulation for companies 37
Privacy in the mass media 37
Internet content regulation: Illegal material - ie. child-pornography 40
Internet content regulation: Protecting community standards 42
Internet communications are completely different from
Internet content regulation: Protecting children 49
mass-media technologies 42
Community Standards - and the historical perspective 45
Internet content regulation: Contempt of court 50
Internet content regulation: Defamation and disclosure of private
Internet content regulation: Copyright 53
ISPs and the TIO 53
ISPs and Interception 54
Customer Activated Malicious Call Trace 55
Calling Number Display 57
Outbound telemarketing 58
SPAM email 63
Ex-directory (Silent Line) numbers 63
Updates in reverse order:
Robin Whittle firstname.lastname@example.org
- 2023 August 21: Added my critique of the exposure draft of the Communications Legislation Amendment (Combatting Misinformation and Disinformation) Bill 2023.
- 2005 November 28. Added link to Do-Not-Call directory.
- 2005 October 19. Added Malicious Call Trace and deleted
critique of Project Gatekeeper.
- 1999 April 29. Added link to submission to the Senate IT
Committee on Internet
- 1998 October 16. Established telemarketing directory.
- 1998 June 25. Added link to my CV, to the /telco/articles/
and a note that I haven't heard much back from the Gatekeeper people.
- 1998 May 19. Added Gatekeeper critique.
- 1998 May 18. Added link to the Senate IT Inq. Hansard site
my HTML file with part of the 27-4-98 hearings.
- 1998 May 15. Added HTML version of Senate IT Inq.
- 1998 January 22. Page established with Word and RTF
IT Inq. submission.
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