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SMS scams and online misinformation targeted by ACMA
SMS scams, identity theft and online misinformation are amongst the Communications watchdog's biggest priorities for 2022 - 2033.
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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced its upcoming compliance priorities for broadcasters, publishers and telecommunications companies in 2022 and 2023. The communications authority are targeting seven key issues this year but SMS scams and misinformation are two big priorities in the spotlight.
In a release on the ACMA blog, Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that the watchdog will respond to a sharp rise in SMS scams over the past year by “ registering new rules for telcos requiring them to track and block those messages.” The ACMA also pledged to crack down on SMS and email subscribe rules and protect telco customers experiencing financial hardship.
Earlier this year, Reviews.org’s own research found that Australians had lost an estimated $46.8 million dollars to romance and catfishing scams alone (a 20% increase from the previous year). A similar study in 2021 found that 42% of Australians had fallen victim to online shopping scams while 81% said they worried about being scammed when shopping online. Over half of the same respondents said their online shopping habits had increased since the start of the pandemic in 2020, but it appears the activity of SMS and online scammers has followed the same pattern.
Ultimately, the ACMA’s action against SMS swindlers puts the pressure on telcos themselves to identify and block these sorts of scams, which is great news for the average Australian.
As for online misinformation, O’Loughlin stated that the ACMA will continue to review the performance of digital platforms to ensure they are compliant with the recently introduced industry code with an aim to “advise the government on their [industry codes] effectiveness.”
Another worthy opponent for the ACMA this year seems to be online gambling. The ACMA plans to launch a national “self-exclusion register” that will allow Australians to willingly exclude themselves from any online and phone-based gambling and betting services from anywhere between three months and permanently. It will be considered an offense for any licensed wagering provider to accept bets from anyone or market gambling services to those on the self-exclusion register.
Here’s the complete list of the ACMA’s 2022-2033 priorities according the official blog:
- Supporting Australians to self-exclude from online and phone gambling–with the establishment of national self-exclusion register
- Protecting telco customers experiencing financial hardship–especially making sure telcos comply with rules relating to the disconnection of services
- Enforcing SMS and email unsubscribe rules–concentrating on businesses that take no notice of customers unsubscribe request or make it hard for them to unsubscribe
- Combating SMS and identity theft phone scams–enforcing new rules on telcos to use stronger ID checks and establishing new rules to reduce SMS scams
- Tackling online supply of dodgy devices–including educating Australians about the risks of buying these devices online
- Improving quality captioning on TV–adjusting our monitoring approach to better determine whether TV broadcasters are consistently and reliably meeting their obligations
- Combating misinformation and disinformation on digital platforms–continuing to review platforms’ data and performance measures under industry’s self-regulatory code of practice.
If you or someone you know has been targeted by a scam online or over the phone, you can report it at Scamwatch.