The Telecommunications Act 1997 (Cth) provides that an unlisted number cannot be disclosed except in specified contexts. The Act however is silent on whether a fee can be charged for an unlisted number.
On 28 February 2013 the Senate referred the feasibility of a prohibition on charging fees for an unlisted number service to the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee for inquiry and report by 15 May 2013.
1.2 The terms of reference for the inquiry were:
The feasibility of a prohibition on the charging of fees for an unlisted (silent) number service, with particular reference to:
- recommendation no. 72–17 contained in report no. 108 of the Australian Law Reform Commission on Australian privacy law and practice;
- whether the payment of a fee unduly inhibits the privacy of telephone subscribers;
- the likely economic, social and public interest impact for consumers and businesses, carriage service providers and the White Pages directory producer, if the charging of fees for unlisted (silent) number services was prohibited;
- the implications of such prohibition for the efficacy of the national public number directory; and
- any other relevant matters.
2.50 The committee recommends that the Telecommunications Act 1997 not be amended to prohibit the charging of a fee for an unlisted (silent) number on a public number directory.
2.54 The committee recommends that the Australian Communications and Media Authority produce relevant material for telecommunications users that explains where their personal information is published and how it may be made private.