paccnd0.html and index.html Preface and Table of Contents - this file links to the others:

paccnd0.html (This file.)

paccnd1.html (Chapter 1.)

paccnd2.html (Chapter 2.)

paccnd3.html (Chapter 3.)

paccnd4.html (Chapter 4.)

paccnda.html (Attachments.)

paccndg.html (Glossary.)

This is a copy of the AUSTEL PAC Calling Number Display report, which was available on the AUSTEL web site until the end of June 1997. Since AUSTEL no longer exists, I am making it available at

See for my Privacy Law and Policy Reporter article on this PAC report.





The AUSTEL Privacy Advisory Committee was established by AUSTEL at the request of the Minister for Communications and the Arts the Hon Michael Lee MP on 15 September 1994. The Committee is established under section 53 of the Telecommunications Act 1991, and reports to AUSTEL in an advisory capacity. In the first instance the Minister requested the Committee address the issues of customer personal information, in particular that of silent line customers; telemarketing; and Calling Number Display.

The scope of telecommunications privacy issues is both broad and complex and this is reflected in the constitution of the Committee's membership (Attachment H) - comprising representatives from industry, government and consumer and user groups - and in its terms of reference (Attachment I).




1. Background

On 15 September 1994 the Minister for Communications and the Arts, the Hon. Michael Lee, requested that AUSTEL establish a Privacy Advisory Committee (PAC) to consider telecommunications privacy issues of particular concern. One of these issues was Calling Number Display (CND). CND is a service which delivers to subscribers or 'receivers' of CND the number, and sometimes other related information, of the calling party. It is acknowledged that CND has significant privacy implications.

The Committee's consideration of the privacy implications of CND was extensive and this is reflected in the Report. No specific proposals for the introduction of CND and associated privacy protection mechanisms were provided by the carriers. Thus the PAC proceeded on the basis of known experience with CND for up to six years in a range of European countries and North America. The PAC also considered the evidence of the Telstra trial in Wauchope conducted during 1994.

The Minister's reference of CND to the Committee included his expectation that any widespread introduction of CND be accompanied by appropriate industry guidelines to ensure that consumers are able to exercise informed choice. The PAC's response to the Minister's request is particularly addressed in the three important attachments to its Report which set down the privacy protection requirements for the introduction of CND. These documents are:

Taken together these documents address such significant primary privacy issues as the level of control CND senders have over the automatic provision of their number to receivers, the provision of this information on the basis of informed choice and the uses to which CND information may be put by receivers of that information, particularly organisational and business receivers.

2. The PAC's Report

The privacy protection mechanisms identified in the PAC's Report derive from its fundamental recommendation that, excepting existing silent line customers, CND may be offered in Australia on the basis of opt out. As noted in the Report the debate over opt out or opt in is at the heart of balancing the privacy interests of senders with the service interests of users of CLI.

The PAC Report acknowledges that opt in provides the premium level of privacy protection but that Australians should not unreasonably be denied access to the useful functions and enhancements provided by CND services including enabling organisational and residential consumers to better manage their incoming telephone traffic. The PAC's preference for opt out included consideration that:

The PAC is not the first body called to address such a fundamental issue. David McKendry, Price Waterhouse, consultant to the Canadian Privacy Commissioner sees CND as highlighting the balancing of interests inherent in privacy issues. Certainly it is a current example of a clash between privacy and technology. In his Annual Report 1990-1991 the then Privacy Commissioner of Canada reflects upon privacy as a value that is relative:

"But if absolute privacy in modern society is neither attainable, practical nor even particularly desirable, the struggle must continue to preserve the individual's right to decide the degree to which personal privacy is to be sacrificed on behalf of other competing rights and claims".

The special arrangements for existing silent line customers was based largely upon the consideration that those customers have already made a positive statement about avoiding disclosure of their phone number. As the PAC report notes, new silent line customers, and existing silent line customers who change their service arrangements, will be offered line blocking as a service option when ordering their new service. Thus the transitional arrangements made for existing silent line customers will, over time, become less relevant as silent line customers indicate their choice when ordering new service options. Telstra's strong opposition to these special arrangements was on the basis that:

3. AUSTEL's Consideration

AUSTEL agrees with the consideration and recommendations of the PAC's Report. It particularly welcomes the high levels of privacy and consumer protection mechanisms recommended by its Committee in the context of an opt out CND environment.

AUSTEL endorses the views of the PAC about the special arrangements for existing silent line customers.

AUSTEL also makes mention of the importance of effective public education campaigns as a key element in the promotion of consumer awareness in making informed choices concerning the usage and privacy implications of CND services on an opt out basis. Certainly the major consumer education task currently lies with Telstra but AUSTEL emphasises its expectation that all carriers will submit their public education campaign plans to it prior to launch in accordance with the Public Education Campaign Guidelines.

In its consideration of the Report AUSTEL also identifies some related matters:

Norm O'Doherty
General Manager
Consumer Affairs Branch
December 1995