ACMA reveals 'plain language' protection code

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued its telecommunications consumer protection guidelines in response to calls for a simpler set of rules for telcos and users alike.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued its telecommunications consumer protection guidelines in response to calls for a simpler set of rules for telcos and users alike.

The new code has consolidated guidelines from six previously separate codes, covering matters such as advertising, point of sale information, fair consumer contracts, billing, credit management, customer transfer and complaints handling.

After a 12-month consultation period with the industry, as well as a general call for public submissions, the communications regulator deregistered these codes to produce a single document with which industry is expected to comply.

"The code should assist in a greater understanding for consumers and make compliance simpler for industry in this increasingly converged market," said Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman in a statement.

"The development of the code was a major undertaking in response to calls from consumer groups for an easily readable code that enshrines multiple protection measures within a single document," said Anne Hurley, Communications Alliance Chief Executive Officer.

Hurley told ZDNet.com.au today that the new guidelines had taken out much of the "prescriptive material" that had occupied the previous codes, and put their remaining content into "plain language".

The Communications Alliance CEO also noted that provisions in the guidelines had been developed particularly with small business in mind, not just individual consumers.

"It's definitely about small business as well, the guidelines set out here are designed to protect them as well ... the working group for the code included a representative of small business," she said.