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19 May, 2014

 

Legal News & Analysis – Asia Pacific – Australia – TMT

 

TPG Fined AUD 400k For Triple Zero Errors

 
In Australian Communications and Media Authority v TPG Internet Pty Ltd [2014] FCA 382 (16 April 2014), the Federal Court of Australia ordered TPG Internet Pty Ltd (TPG) to pay AUD 400k for contraventions of the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 (Determination), which requires telecommunications providers to give customers and other end-users access to the Triple Zero Emergency Call Service (Service). The breaches occurred after an upgrade to TPG’s computer systems led to an error that prevented customers with suspended accounts from being able to access the Service.

 

The ACMA instituted proceedings, arguing that TPG breached the Determination by failing to ensure that its network gave almost 6000 home telephone services access to the Service, and by failing to connect 193 calls made to the Service. The Court decided in the ACMA’s favour, finding that TPG breached its obligations as it was still required to ensure that the Service was accessible even when a customer’s account was suspended .

 

  • A link to the ACMA’s media release can be found here
  • A link to the Federal Court judgment can be found here.

Consumer Organisation Warns Against Proposed Telco Reforms

 
The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has warned against the Government’s deregulation Bill proposals. The Government has proposed to amend Part 13 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999 (Cth) and the Consumer Services Guarantee, which currently requires providers to connect a service, repair a fault and attend appointments within a maximum timeframe. In its submission to the Department of Communications, ACCAN warned that the removal of the current requirements could have a negative impact on consumers, who would face greater obstacles when negotiating contracts, repair timeframes and compensation arrangements with telecommunication companies.

  • A link to ACCAN’s media release can be found here.

 

ACCC Fines Telco For Misleading Phone Card Advertising

 
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has imposed penalties on Cardcall Pty Ltd (Cardcall) totalling AUD 20,400 for the telecommunication provider’s misleading advertisements relating to its prepaid phone card services. The advertisements did not incorporate the terms and conditions that applied, which made it unlikely that customers would pay the advertised price per minute through ordinary use of the phone card.

  • A link to the ACCC’s media release can be found here.

 

Companies Should Not Ignore Risk Of Calling Consumers On Do Not Call Register

 
The ACMA has issued an infringement notice of $20,400 to Zone Telecom Pty Ltd (Zone) for making telemarketing calls to telephone numbers listed on the Do Not Call Register (Register). A major factor which the ACMA took into account when issuing this penalty was the fact that Zone ignored early warning signs in 2012 and 2013 that its marketing lists may have contained numbers on the Register and continued to contact these consumers. This penalty highlights that companies should take their responsibilities under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (Cth) seriously, and not ignore the risks of contacting customers without a legal basis to do so.

 

  • A link to the ACMA’s media release can be found here.

 

Confidentiality Claim Over Company Email Accounts Successful

 
The receivers and managers of a building company sought to prevent liquidators from accessing the company’s computers due to concerns over claims of confidentiality and privilege made by principals of the companies and other companies associated with them: Matthews v Clifton [2014] FCA 415. The company principals had used their company email accounts to send and receive emails relating to their own personal affairs and information concerning their other businesses.

 
The cross-claimants sought to claim both privacy and confidentiality: relying upon the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) and the equitable remedy for breach of confidence. The Privacy Act claim was not successful as White J found that the Privacy Act does not establish a relevant right in any corporate entity and the principals themselves, not the company, would have to invoke that right. Additionally, the information was not received by the organisation for the “primary purpose of collection”, as required under the National Privacy Principles. However, the claimants were narrowly successful in their claim of equitable protection of confidential information despite a number of issues with the specific identity of the documents over which confidentiality and privilege were claimed. The fact that the principals were not employed by the organisation, but owned and controlled it, was a strong factor in White J’s decision that the information was confidential.”

 

  • A link to the Federal Court judgment can be found here.

 

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For further information, please contact:

 

Gordon Hughes, Partner, Ashurst
gordon.hughes@ashurst.com

 

Ashurst TMT Practice Profile in Australia

 

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