How to protect yourself from telemarketers in Australia. 

The Do-Not-Call Registry began operation in early May 2007: .

A history of the debate, the lousy state of "regulation" and the ALP's proposal - and now the government's forthcoming proposal - for a government-run opt-out list.

The Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts released a discussion paper on establishing a Do-Not-Call list:
Also: where a standard for telemarketing and research calls is being developed.  Submissions must by in by 30 January 2007.

Submissions from the public were due by 30 November 2005.  495 submissions totalling about 1160 pages were received.  The Minister's press release is here
My submission and other information on this important development is here:  ../dnc/ .

Government Action 2006-04-04!
(But see below for their backtracking on small business on 25 May.)

At last (I have been working on this problem since late 1991 . . . ), the government has committed itself to controlling telemarketers' abuse of the telephone system.  A press release on 4 April 2006 announced the creation of a scheme, partly funded by the government, to control telemarketing.

The scheme will protect residential and small business telephone numbers, without charge.  How is the scheme going to distinguish what sort of phone number is being registered?  What if a large company's number is registered, a telemarketer gets fined for calling it, and then challenges the system by claiming that the number should not have been registered? 

"Charities" and organisations conducting "social research" will be exempted.  Will the scheme ban calls from companies who licence a charity's name, in return for some pitifully small proportion of the profits from the so-called "donations"?  How will the allowed research be defined?  In terms of the questions, the organisational status of the client (for-profit, non-profit, government, charity), the stated purpose of the research, whether or not the project has been approved by the ethics committee of an Australian university or other such institution?

These exemptions will require a lot of extra admin work and will lead to distortions of the scheme.

The press release says this will be the end of "nuisance calls".  But telemarketing (and for some or many people, market research calls) are not the only sort of nuisance calls.  A lot more needs to be done to detect and deter malicious calls - including a proper Malicious Call Trace service.  See my page:  ../mct/ .

This scheme should make the telemarketing provisions of ADMA's Code redundant.

25 May 2006: small business will not be protected
According to the press release which accompanies the bill, small businesses will not be protected from telemarketing.

This is a really, really bad idea.

Telemarketing imposes high and completely unjustifyable costs to businesses of all sizes - all of which must eventually be borne by their customers.

Exemptions will be provided for certain types of telemarketing calls such as calls from charities, registered political parties, independent Members of Parliament and candidates, religious organisations, educational institutions (where the call is made to a student or alumni) and government bodies.

“The exemptions are important to allow these organisations, who carry out activities in the public interest, to be able to continue to provide services to the community,” Senator Coonan said.

Telemarketing is not in the public interest.  There is always a more respectful, less privacy invasive, way of making contact than cold-calling.

This is typical Liberal Party "consumer protection" - promise to protect and at the crucial moment, do a lot less than is really needed.

This lack of protection for businesses will lead to many people choosing to list their number as a non-business number, but that will be difficult for the many businesses who need to be listed in the Yellow Pages.

To the 2003/2004 page:   2003/ <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Submissions and links to relevant documents.  There have been major developments
in telemarketing regulation in the USA and other countries in the last few years, and
submissions from several organisations, as well as my own discuss these in detail.

To the 2005/2006 page:   2005/ <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
ADMA again asking for the ACCC's approval for a Direct Marketing Code
of Practice, despite having very poor coverage of outbound telemarketers
and despite the Code legitimising privacy invasive practices, whilst offering
virtually no protections.  The ACCC is having a pre-decision conference on
14 November and is accepting written submissions until 16 December.

Please see this directory for latest documents from ADMA, including details of its
do-not-contact lists and the 2003-2004 report of its Code Authority.

There is also word that the federal (Liberal-National coalition) government is considering a
Do-Not-Call system, similar to that which has been so successful in the USA.  (This is one
thing the Bush administration should be congratulated for!)  ADMA wants to run the
scheme, of course . . .
I wrote to the Minister for Communications ( supporting a government-run telemarketing regulatory scheme provided:
Since this important policy question is now in a state of flux, I suggest that writing to the Minister is a practical way of helping to reducing telemarketing for everyone in the future.

I also wrote about the need for Ad-Hoc Call Trace - easily available tracing of malicious calls.
Telemarketing is not the only field which I think requires a robust government regulatory response.  At present, it is difficult or impossible for most recipients (including for public buildings following a bomb threat) to have the source of one-off malicious calls traced.  In the USA, some telephone companies have an "Ad-Hoc" Call Trace facility where, for a small fee (to discourage frivolous use) the network identifies the source of the last incoming call and forwards it to investigators, not to the person who received the call.  Such a service should, I believe, be mandatory for all telephone services in Australia.  It is the only way of being able to detect and deter the many one-off malicious calls - including gravely emotionally abusive calls ("Your husband will not be coming home tonight. You will never see him again.") and especially bomb threats, which at present can be made with impunity.  Calling Number Display is useless for detecting or deterring malicious calls, since it can be disabled by the caller, and because it does not leave any lasting, legally testable, record.
To my pages on Malicious Call Trace: ../mct/
Here is a pointer to David Hickson's UK pages on the problem of "silent calls" - calls which arrive without any person or announcement to tell the recipient what the call is about: .

This is the Telemarketing  section of the Issues section of Robin Whittle's web site.

Back to the privacy issues section - and also to fun things such as the world's longest Sliiiiiiiiinky.

On 1 July 2004, Labor Shadow Minister for Communications and for Community Relations, Lindsay Tanner (Member for Melbourne) released a media release promising hard government regulation for outbound telemarketing calls, along the lines of the US Government's opt-out system .  This is not the best solution.  Firstly, charity (and therefore the many pseudo-charity calls from businesses who licence a charity's names) would be covered.  Secondly, as with the regulation of email (the Federal Government's Spam Act) the system should be based on an opt-in list.

Still, this is good news.  Meanwhile the Government is saying it has been talking to ADMA and is not at all keen on the hugely popular US approach.


A Labor Government will introduce a legislated ‘Do Not Call’ List to
stamp out unwanted telemarketing calls to Australian homes.

Many Australians are sick of the unwarranted intrusion of
telemarketers into their homes. The current self-regulatory model has
not been adequate in dealing with unwanted telemarketing. A recent
survey found more than two-thirds of Australians were uncomfortable
receiving unsolicited telephone calls.

Labor will hang up on unwanted telemarketing with a national ‘Do Not
Call’ List.

Labor’s legislated ‘Do Not Call’ List will be managed by the ACCC.
All Australians will be able to register with the list.

Telemarketing companies calling numbers on the ‘Do Not Call’ list
will be subject to fines of up to $10,000.

Charities, political organisations and telephone surveyors making
noncommercial calls will be exempt from the list. A similar list in
the USA now has over 50 million registered phone numbers.

Labor will also introduce new telemarketing rules to ensure that
telemarketers do not call people on public holidays or on Sundays.

Appropriate penalties will exist for those found breaking the rules.
A Labor Government will stamp out unwanted telemarketing calls.
Australians value their time at home and many resent the regular
unsolicited phone calls which disrupt their relaxation and family

July 1, 2004

19 October 2005:

The two companies who used to make CD-ROMs for telemarketing, including the details of many or most homes and businesses in Australia, have been forced out of business by legal action from Telstra, who claim copyright over the contents of their telephone directories.  (However, Telstra, in the past and perhaps still, marketed similar telemarketing-encouraging data and software targeting any business which was listed in the Yellow Pages.)

At present, I think there is nothing you can do, in general, to reduce the incidence of telemarketing calls.  The CD-ROMs from these companies are still floating around and will be used for the next year or two, I guess.

I do not recommend adding your details to ADMA's list.  Most telemarketers are not members of ADMA.  That list means your details will be distributed to a number of direct marketing companies, and there is no way of ensuring that the information will not be used inappropriately by staff or companies who cannot be trusted.

I suggest:
  • Never buy anything, or make any donation to anyone who calls you.  (This only encourages them in general, adds your name and number to a list of soft targets.  Also, how do you know who is calling you?  It could be a scammer trying to get your credit card details.)

  • Don't give your personal details to companies and "charities" - including for raffles and contests.

  • Get an unlisted number - this costs money from Telstra, unfortunately.  Also, it prevents old friends from finding you in the White Pages.  It is probably impossible to run a business with an unlisted number.

  • When a telemarketer calls, hang up quickly, or insist on speaking with the manager to get them never to call you again.  I think it can be a good idea to give the telemarketer a really hard time.  This increases stress on them and puts up the cost of running telemarketing businesses.  Telemarketing is a soul-destroying occupation and I often tell the caller I hope they can get a better job.  When telemarketing is reduced, there is less burden on proper businesses from all those calls, so the efficiency of business improves and there are more real jobs.

The material in this box is probably of historical interest only.

How to reduce the number of telemarketing calls you receive

12 September 2003

There are two so-called industry bodies (who don't talk to each other . . . ) who run opt-out list for telemarketing.  But neither organisation covers more than a fraction of outbound telemarketers.  In both cases - ADMA's certainly and probably the ATA as well - registering on their opt-out list will lead to your name and phone number together (plus your address or any other things you give them) being sent to their members and to non-member companies who pay for access to the list. This means your name, number and other details can fall into the hands of absolutely anyone, including criminals.  (Both organisations have contracts about this not happening, but there's no way of being sure of how their lists will be used or abused.) For many people, this distribution of your linked name and number is entirely unacceptable.  If you are trying to keep a low profile, for instance so a stalker or abusive ex-partner can't find you, then these opt-out schemes are impossible to use, since there is no way of knowing how this information will be copied misused.

Also, neither of these lists are used by more than a small fraction of telemarketers.  Furthermore, what's to stop a telemarketer ignoring these lists?  Not much.  The ATA has little or no clout and no power whatsoever over telemarketers who are not members.  ADMA has its so-called "Code Authority" which was approved by the ACCC in 1999 - but even fewer telemarketers are members of ADMA. 

I do not recommend you register with these lists.  In my view, neither organisation has a genuine interest in protecting the public.  If they did, they would not contemplate representing companies who engage in outbound telemarketing.   For more information on this pathetic state of zero protection, see the abovementioned 2003 directory for my and other submissions on telemarketing regulation, and see the material below as well for the 1999 debate.

The two "industry representative bodies" are:

What I do recommend, and find effective, is contacting the two telemarketing CD companies mentioned below and asking them to remove your details from their products.   I found this quite painless.  I have not examined their CD-ROMs to see if the name and number is actually removed, or whether some or all the information remains, but is flagged not to be used for telemarketing.  Whatever happens, getting these two companies to remove your details (or flag it as not to be called) will, according to my experience, greatly reduce the incidence of telemarketing calls.

This is assuming you don't do anything stupid like sign up for raffles, contests etc. use FlyBuys or any other such information-gathering crap - and in particular that you never, ever, ever, give money to anyone who contacts you by some intrusive means, such as a telemarketing call or spam email.

Members of the public who give any money to telemarketers, including charities and so-called charities (actually businesses licensing the name of a charity who gets as little as 5% of the "donation") . . . . if you do this, then you are a bloody idiot.  Behavior like this is the only  thing which finances all these intrusions.  Who can blame these desperate, dim, unprincipled telemarketers for fishing though the phone book looking for suckers like you?

22 January 2002

In January 2001 I wrote to Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd and asked them to remove my phone numbers from the CD-ROMs they produce.  A lady from the company phoned me back and was very helpful.  I understood my name and number no longer appeared on their CD-ROMs - but it seems they were listing me with a second number which is also in the White Pages, but which has no phone plugged into it.  The result was that the frequency of telemarketing calls I have received in 2002 has dropped dramatically.   In late November 2002, I  have noted only 9 calls for the year - though there have probably been a few more calls I have not written down.  For 2000, I noted 32 calls.   Some people in Australia - such as on the Gold Coast - are getting several calls an evening, including totally automated recorded messages, as in the USA.   Things could get as bad here as in the USA - where I think the pressure of telemarketing calls causes people to be defensive and distrustful of people in general.  It has been a problem there since 1909: .

This reduction in calls shows, as I had suspected, that the majority of telemarketing companies in Australia rely on Desktop Marketing's CD-ROMs, which are compiled with third-world labour typing in the contents of Telstra's directories.  (But see below for another company which also sells as CD-ROM of the same kind.) Telstra has tried to prevent this.  Googling "Desktop Marketing" Site:au  like this leads to pages on various court cases.  (Meanwhile Telstra sell  their own business-only Yellow Pages CD-ROMs which come with telemarketing phone dialling software to encourage the targeting of businesses - a very strong incentive not to be listed in the Yellow Pages.)

Here are the contact details for Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd:

   Suite 3, 164 Boronia Road,
   (PO Box 231) Boronia VIC 3155

   Phone: 03 9761 2206 Fax:   03 9761 2291

I sent them a letter in the post insisting they remove all mention of me and my numbers from their products.  I received an email saying that previously they had "tagged" my main phone number and would now also "tag" my second number (which I have now had Optus remove from the White Pages).  Whether this means they "tag" my numbers in their central database so they do not appear on the CD-ROM or whether they appear on the CD-ROM tagged in some way, I do not know.   They said in the email:  

    This means that clients will not be able to contact
    you from our products for direct marketing purposes.

I couldn't be bothered arguing with these people what tagging means or whether it really does prevent anyone from doing anything and have left it at that.

Update 2004 March 11: Good news - you can forget about the second company, mentioned in the green box.  Telstra challenged them in court and a settlement was reached which means that the "Australia on Disc" CD-ROM is no longer being distributed in Australia, which I assume means it no longer exists in any form.  A story about this in the Sydney Morning Herald on 29 December 2004 is here:
In case that disappears, it is archived here: smh-2003-12-29.html.  The story seems to be based on the Telstra (Sensis is a Telstra subsidiary) press release:
But Desktop Marketing Systems are still selling such products - a reverse directory and a directory of 8.9 Australian businesses and residences.

There is another miserable outfit Dependable Database Data who does the same thing - aggressively repurposing the copyright information in the phone directory to sell to telemarketers and the like.  This company sell the CD "Australia on Disk" or "Australia on Disc":

   Brylar's Australia on Disc  November 2002 Release Out Now!
   Australia's complete Electronic Phone Book just got even better

       All 56 National Telephone Directories
       Over 1.3 Million Business Listings (Business CD only)
       Over 6.9 Million Residential Listings (Residential CD only)
       Over 170,000 fax numbers (Business CD only)
       Over 52,000 E-Mail Addresses (Business CD only)
       Over 68,000 Web Addresses (Business CD only)

This is sold by many retailers, for prices such as  $397.

Their privacy page: says:

    DDD has for many years provided an 'Opt-Out Service' to enable
    those individuals or companies not wishing to have their details
    included in our products, the means of permanent removal. If you
    would like to take advantage of our Opt-Out Service or to alter
    incorrect or out of date details, please contact us as
    described below.

     The Privacy Officer
     Dependable Database Data
     Suite 30, 70-74 Philip Street
     Parramatta NSW 2150
     Phone (02) 9635 4445     Fax (02) 9635 4646

I think that it should be illegal to aggressively repurpose public information like this company and Telstra does.

I think that the political party which promises to ban telemarketing will win the next election.  This and other systematic misuses of the telecommunications system, such as spam, should be properly regulated and there should be a much easier and better approach for reporting one-off malicious calls.  Please see the parent directory for more information on these.  

I read that there is a plan in the USA to start a centralised telemarketing number filtering system, but it has many holes in it, such as allowing banks and telecommunications companies to ignore it, and to allow many other loopholes for companies which have recently done business with a person, and also for "charities" and political parties.  Jason Catlett's excellent US-based site: has news on this.

People who respond positively to any telemarketing call, including supposed charity calls, are just as culpable as the telemarketers themselves.  (The same goes for the greedy, idiot "victims" of Nigerian scams - it is their money which pays for the scammers to plaster us all with their spam and other approaches.)  Never respond positively to such calls, and never give out money or personal information to people who call you like this.  There is always a better way for you to find out about things and to spend or donate money - and by giving information to callers, you are trusting people who you cannot know the true identity of.  Of course if you ever do respond positively, then you will get lots and lots of calls in the future!  Many of the so-called "charities" which call are in fact commercial companies licencing a charity's name, and giving a few percent of their proceeds to the charity.  

Other links (but see the 2003 submissions page above for the latest news):

Everything below here is from 1999.  See the top of this page for the directory with the 2003 to 2006  material!

17 August 1999

ACCC approves ADMA's code of conduct which allows open-slather telemarketing

This page wraps up a phase in the battle to control telemarketing which began on 2 September 1998 when the Australian Direct Marketing Association applied, in secret, to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for registration of a "code of conduct".  The proposed code, if registered by the ACCC, would constitute government approval for the business practices covered by the code.  The proposed code dealt with direct mail, telemarketing and electronic commerce - despite ADMA having little coverage or experience in the latter two areas.  The focus of this site is on the open-slather telemarketing aspects of this proposed code, although most of the rest of the code is also strongly anti-consumer.

There was an initial outcry by advocates when we found that the ACCC was poised to approve the code.  This lead to round of submissions, a meeting and a second round of submissions - all in November/December 1998.  In June, the ACCC prepared a draft determination which corrected some incompetencies and a few of of the most glaring anti-consumer provisions of ADMA's draft code - and granted its approval pending comments from advocates.  This draft determination was passed to a number of advocates, and so there was a third round of submissions.  My submission in June is here: comments-rw-4.html .   Like other advocates, I insisted that it would be completely wrong for the ACCC to approve ADMA's code in respect of telemarketing and electronic commerce.   I also pointed out how ADMA's every action proved it to be determined to have a code registered with minimal consumer protections.

On 16 August 1999, the ACCC made its final determination.  Here is is in HTML:   accc-determination-1999-08-17.html and Rich Text Format (Word without macros, and so safe from macro virii): accc-determination-1999-08-17.rtf .

 In essence, they approved ADMA's code, subject to a number of amendments, covering direct mail, telemarketing and electronic commerce.  If you want a quick run-down on what is wrong with this, see my comments-rw-4.html.  For more detailed material from me and other advocates on telemarketing and the other problems with this code, see the section below - which is effectively frozen as it was at the end of 1998.

I do not intend to comment much on this determination beyond what I wrote in June.  One thing I will note is that the determination's treatment of ADMA's totally insecure opt-out scheme is pathetic.  8.82 says that no evidence of abuse was presented, nor of consumers' reluctance to join the scheme.  The potential for privacy violation is obvious to all.  I understand that ADMA's "don't mail" scheme has only a few thousand members, and probably fewer than that for the "don't call" scheme - clear evidence of consumer reluctance since at least 70% of ten million or so adult consumers do not want to get any telemarketing calls.

I believe that the ACCC's approval of ADMA's code in this form is a complete debacle.  (Other advocates may be more up-beat.)  In respect of telemarketing and electronic commerce, it is utterly at odds with the ACCC's responsibility to approve only codes with net positive public benefits.

This phase is the latest setback in a long running debate concerning how best to protect the Australian public (at home and at work) from the curse of profligate outbound telemarketing.  In the USA, many people get two or more telemarketing calls at home per day.  The social costs of this are enormous and impossible to justify.   ADMA has proven time and again since 1991 that its sole concern is minimising consumer protection.  Now the ACCC has given them approval to act in the role of standards setter and protector of consumers in direct mail, telemarketing and electronic commerce.  Quite a coup for an organisation with a shambolic, consumer-hostile, web site and without a publicly available email address.

I have nothing but contempt for ADMA's current management, but I do not believe its actions reflect the true long term interest of most ADMA members.  Likewise, I have the utmost contempt for the failings of the ACCC and other equally ineffective government bodies (AUSTEL, the Ministerial Council of Consumer Affairs) and various ministers (and the Prime Minister who scuttled privacy legislation for the corporate sector, at the behest of ADMA amongst others) all of whom, collectively, since late 1991 (when I joined this debate) have done nothing to protect the public they serve.   What do we have governments for, if not to systematically protect us from threats which we cannot protect ourselves from individually?   See a treatise on why we have governments and the criteria for when they should and should not regulate here, in my submission to the Senate IT Committee. .

This complete failure of my own efforts, and the efforts of many other advocates, to achieve any progress in the control of telemarketing is a turning point for me.  I have decided to cease my involvement in consumer advocacy.  Like the Calling Number Display, Internet censorship and cryptography debates, despite all the efforts and cogent reasoning of many advocates, we now have worst case outcomes in all these situations.     In each case this is because we have a federal government which is censorious, anti-consumer and/or has its head in the sand in the field of cryptography.   The reason we have this type of government is that people vote for them! (Actually only 49% in the last election.) Also, Labor governments have had their failings too.

To read more on this and my reasons for ceasing my consumer advocacy efforts, and so channeling my energies into fields where I definitely canmake a difference, please read my email to fellow privacy advocates: debacle.html  .

- Robin
All the material below, and all the linked pages and files, is from the state of the debate at the end of December 1998, after the second round of comments and the pre-decision conference. 


1.30 PM  Friday 18 December 1998

In October and November 1998, urgent action is needed to stop the ACCC accepting an ADMA Code of Conduct, which amongst other things, would legitimise open slather outbound telemarketing.

Consequently this page will be updated frequently. To get the latest version of this information, click the Reload button of Netscape (or perhaps hold the Shift key down while you click it, since this sometimes invokes special magic, such as reloading image files) or theRefreshbutton of the other browser.

At present, most of the web-accessible material I have made over the past few years, including that on Calling Number Display, Customer Activated Malicious Call Trace, Internet Censorship and Cryptography is at my old site:
See especially the telemarketing section at:
More recent consumer advocacy material is also in the /issues/ directory here:
Back to the main First Principles site.

The Situation at Present (historical  1998):

The pre-decision conference was held on 26 November - at the ACCC offices in Sydney with a videoconferencing link to Melbourne.  Advocates present, in addition to myself, were: The Deputy Privacy Commissioner was also present, as were representatives of the Federal Consumer Affairs, a number of ACCC people and at least two (perhaps four?) people from ADMA.  There were one or two other people observing in Sydney.

The conference lasted nearly three and a half hours and was chaired by Mr Allan Asher, Deputy Chairperson of the ACCC.

The ACCC has circulating notes on the predecision conference.  These notes are not minutes of the meeting, but an attempt to summarise what was discussed.  These notes have been placed on the public record, and the ACCC has provided me with a file so I can make it available at this site.  That file is available in HTML pdc-notes.html and in Word 6 format:  pdc-notes.doc . At the end, it notes that an ADMA representative stated: "ADMA will continue to engage in discussion and will address the important issues raised in another forum.".  I don't remember ADMA representative stating they were interested in discussing the code at all.  They did not respond to any of the points raised in two-and-half hours of criticism.

A three week time limit has been set for further submissions, and no date has yet been set for the ACCC to make its final decision.  Submissions are due on Thursday 17 December 1998.

The advocates were all invited to speak in detail about particular areas of concern, and Mr Asher asked further questions of us all. I spoke about the problems of outbound telemarketing and about opt-out and opt-in approaches to protecting residential and business telephone customers (more details in my second submission, in the green box below.)

In all, I think that two-and-a-half hours was devoted to criticism of the content of the code, to its enforcement mechanisms and to a lesser extent to questions of the ACCC's process in assessing this code.

ADMA, in their written submission to the meeting - and in their final verbal response to the advocate's criticisms - offered no changes to the code itself (other than changes made as part of a review after one year's operation) and gave no indication they were prepared to consult directly with consumer representatives. Nor were they apologetic for their lack of consultation or their false claims that they had consulted with consumer representatives regarding this code. They asked the ACCC to approve the code on the grounds that its public benefit exceeds its anti-competitive impact.

In my opinion:

The Vital Files:

Recent developments

1998 November 9: ADMA launches its Code with ACCC involvement

On Monday 19 November, ADMA launched its code, at an ACCC conference, with the assistance of ACCC chairperson Allan Fels.  This seems extraordinary considering the unanimous opposition to the code by consumer advocates, the fact that the ACCC is still in the process of deciding on the code and the fact that consumer advocates have been extremely critical of the process so far.

More details here:  launch.html and at Newswire:

1998 November 20: Changes to the code from ADMA's lawyers

ADMA launched its code on 9 November - in contentious circumstances.  More details here:  launch.html , Roulla Yiacoumi's article at Newswire: and the ACCC's press release.

The ACCC "Pre-Decision" conference will be held on 26 November in Sydney, with a video link to Melbourne - and I intend to be at the Melbourne end.

ADMA's lawyers have made a number of additions to their code, in response to the ACCC's Draft Determination - I have listed these in the pink box below.  The version of the code here does not include those amendments.  The amendments are primarily to do with code administration and the addition of clauses 33 and 34 in Part E requiring members to use ADMA's "Do not call/Do not mail" service.  (This service is a serious privacy trap and should not be used by any silent line customer or anyone who values their privacy.)  See the pink box below for latest details of the code and ADMA's press release.

 Where does outbound telemarketing sit in the scheme of things?

Chart showing telemarketing, direct mail, door-to-door sales and junk faxes Chart 2: Consumer acceptance of various advertising approaches
Chart 3: Retail Shops and Inbound Telemarketing
Chart 3: Retail Shops and Inbound Telemarketing

Links to other material

Who are the Australian Direct Marketing Association?

ADMA mainly represents direct mail companies.

Take a look at their web site

The ACCC Draft Determination (2.3) mentions ADMA's membership as "over 400", but according to their web site directory, there are approximately 370 corporate members (plus around a dozen new members).  28 of them are listed as involved in telemarketing (inbound and/or outbound).  I have compiled a list of ADMA corporate members here.

Some quotes from the ADMA web-site.  Click on "Source" to see the full page from their site.

Source: the CEO writing on the benefits of having the ACCC approve the Code:

Having authorised our Code of  Practice, it becomes much less likely that government will pass the kind of business-killing regulations we have long feared.
That page also states how the ADMA has fought against a NSW union campaign for a telemarketer salary of $40k.

This page, probably from mid 1998, also mentions the mail and telephone "preference schemes" by which people can give ADMA their name, address and phone numbers so that ADMA members will supposedly not direct mail or telemarket them:

The Mail/Telephone Preference Service is due for a major overhaul which will happen by June.
Source: The web application form for the "Do Not Call Service" mentions the membership of ADMA as being 500.  This form requires a name, phone number and address, and potentially additional names.  It only works for two years:
Your name will remain on the delete file for two years, after which time if you want to continue the service you should reapply.
People with privacy concerns, especially unlisted numbers, might be very wary of having their full name, address and phone numbers distributed to nearly 400 ADMA members!

Source:  This is the similar "Do Not Mail" form.

There is no mention of these opt-out scheme in the draft Code, or in the ACCC's Draft Determination.

Source: Here is some misleading information about the consumer supposedly being in charge.  Which laws does this refer to??

. . .  consumers can control the marketing phone calls they receive in their homes. ADMA members who solicit you in your home are required to give you the name of their company and the purpose of the cal; all  members are required to maintain lists of people who request that they not be called again. Under the law, the caller must keep a record of your request on a "do not call" list and may not make further telephone solicitations  to your home. The law also allows consumers to file suit and collect damages for violations of the ruling.
Later on in this page, entitled "Frequently asked questions to help you understand direct marketing", I found the word "cheque" was spelt "check".  I immediately suspected a cut and paste job, and sure enough, the source is the US DMA:
The slackers at the ADMA changed the layout a little, and couldn't even be bothered putting the relevant graphics files on their server. Pathetic.

Source: "Keeping a watch on government"

On privacy and other regulatory issues, ADMA is maintaining a government contact program with both State and Federal politicians and officials including the office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner. To this end, the Association retains the services of a Canberra-based lobbyist.

Source: ADMA claims some of the "credit" for John Howard's extraordinary backflip on privacy in April 1997.  For many years, there had been bipartisan plans to extend the Federal Privacy Act to cover businesses.  A long term project, with the Attorney Generals' Dept. the Privacy Commissioner, privacy advocates and many businesses was working towards this. At a press conference, Howard announced that the plans would involve excessive costs to business and were to be abandoned in favour of a self-regulatory approach.  There was no consultation with Cabinet, the AG's Dept. or the Privacy Commissioner.

In their "ADMA Highlights" page entitled "Protecting Members from Unnecessary Government  Regulation" and "Addressing threat to database marketing" is the following:

When the Federal Government proposed strict data protection laws for the private sector, ADMA prepared a major submission on behalf of the industry, drawing on current DM practices and laws from throughout the world. After reviewing ADMA’s and other comments, Prime Minister John Howard withdrew the proposed legislation. ADMA, both before and after the announcement, represented the industry to the media and at numerous public forums and conferences.

The ADMA has links to members, but not to the Australian Telemarketing and Call Centre Association . . .

Why isn't the Australian Telemarketing & Call Centre Association Inc. involved in this?

The Australian Telemarketing & Call Centre Association Inc. (ATA) is primarily interested in inbound telemarketing - not the outbound telemarketing which causes all the trouble.  They were founded in the early 1990s and when I spoke to them in 1992, they were not particularly proud or enthusiastic about the outbound aspect of telemarketing.  They did have some activities in that field.  They now have a web site:
Their introduction, dated March 98, claims over a thousand members and a growth rate of 70%.  Judging by their education programme, they are involved in outbound telemarketing.

The ATA has a Code of Practice, which is mentioned at It is not available on the Net, but it does include material on:

Which makes it seem a little more consumer friendly than the current ADMA effort.

On 19 October, I spoke to someone at the ATA office and they told me that their preference scheme involves:

I now have received a copy of the ATA Code of Practice in the mail from the ATA and when I get a chance, I will transcribe it and put it up here as HTML.  It has a number of significant advantages for consumers and businesses over ADMA's, including:

The ATA has no links to anyone from their site.

Austel's 1992 Privacy Inquiry and 1995 Telemarketing Report

The full text of this Inquiry's final report is at: I have mirrored it here.

This never actually achieved anything, but it did consult with quite a few people and the people who did it were very concerned about telemarketing and Calling Number Display.

The Austel Privacy Committee, which was eventually formed as a result of the above inquiry, did produce a report on telemarketing, but I think it is a pathetic effort. It is not at the ACA web-site, but it is at:

My submission on privacy and the government's responsibility to regulate in fields, such as telemarketing, where people cannot protect themselves individually

Here is my 63 page submission to the Senate IT Committee early in 1998.  They haven't produced a report yet.

I think there is a lot of material here to interest regulators and advocates about why the government has a responsibility to regulate in those areas where centralised controls will protect people against things they cannot protect against themselves. Outbound telemarketing and malicious phone calls are perfect examples.  Email SPAM and Web material which may be unsuitable for children are areas where governments can do very little and individuals can protect themselves.

Update history

Updates in reverse order: Robin Whittle
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