The ACMA

The ACMA

New rules streamline researchers access to anonymised phone number information

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority has updated the rules that allow researchers and directory publishers access to limited information in the telecommunications industry’s database of Australian phone numbers, the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND).

From April 2017, the changes are intended to allow more efficient access to limited IPND information by researchers, subject to requirements such as completing a privacy impact statement.

The ACMA can now also authorise a recognised research industry body to manage access to limited IPND information on behalf of its members, in controlled circumstances.

An authorised research industry body is not permitted to access the name of customers held in the IPND. It is only able to access and provide its members with listed telephone numbers in particular geographic locations (no more specific that the level of a postcode). No access is permitted to unlisted numbers in the IPND, including all silent fixed line numbers and most mobile numbers.

Access to limited IPND information is only permissible for the purpose of research on health, electoral or government policy topics. No access is allowed for research with a primarily commercial purpose.

All researchers gaining access to limited IPND information are subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act 1988 for the duration of the access arrangement.

In addition, all researchers gaining access to limited IPND information are required to gain the consent of any person they contact before that person can be included in their research project.

The new rules do not change the application process for persons wishing to access IPND data to publish a public number directory.

For more information please see the Backgrounder below, or to arrange an interview, please contact: Emma Rossi, Media Manager, (02) 9334 7719 and 0434 652 063 or media@acma.gov.au.

 

Media release 13/2017 - 5 April

Backgrounder

The IPND is a telecommunications industry wide database of all Australian telephone numbers and associated customer details.

The information in the IPND includes customer name, service address, phone number, whether the service is fixed or mobile and whether the service is listed or unlisted. It was established in 1998 and is managed by Telstra under the Carrier Licence Condition (Telstra Corporation Limited) Declaration 1997.

Under section 295A of the Telecommunications Act 1997 the ACMA must have a scheme in place to authorise access to the IPND for the purposes of conducting permitted research and publishing public number directories. If the IPND Scheme was not remade before April 2017, it would have sunsetted.

The old rules required that access to IPND information by researchers was only permitted after obtaining an authorisation directly from the ACMA. They did not support a model whereby an individual researcher might obtain limited IPND information through an authorised research body. The old rules also only allowed the ACMA to authorise access to IPND information for individual research projects and not ongoing authorisations in controlled circumstances.

The ACMA released a draft IPND Scheme for consultation in December 2016 before finalising this instrument.The new rules are set out in the Telecommunications Integrated Public Number Database Scheme 2017.

Last updated: 05 April 2017

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