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Calling number display and your privacy

17 July 2015

The TIO responded to an industry proposal to change the Calling Number Display Code to a set of guidelines. In our submission we recommended that industry rules about Calling Number Display (CND) remain an enforceable code.

What is calling number display?

CND is the feature that allows people to see your phone number when you call them from a mobile or landline. This feature is automatically enabled unless a customer asks for their number to be blocked or asks for a silent number. Organisations can use a customer’s phone number to:

  • determine your geographical location
  • attempt to identify you, or
  • transfer your call with the organisation.

The CND Code was developed to make sure providers give information to customers about CND and its privacy implications.

“Blocked” versus “silent” numbers

A customer can ask for their number to be blocked as a once off or permanently, and a provider must do this within a reasonable time and for free.

If a customer asks for a silent number, their phone number must be blocked and their details also removed from public directory listings. A provider can charge an ongoing fee for a silent number.

Some organisations such as emergency services, law enforcement and providers are always able to see a caller’s number.

Complaints to the TIO

Customers may not realise they have CND on their service or that they can block it. Sometimes, disclosure of a number can result in a threat to life and safety – for example, for people in high risk professions.

The TIO is able to receive and make decisions on telco-related privacy complaints.  We can handle complaints about matters such as a provider’s delay or failure to block CND.

Our recommendations

In our submission, we support retaining the CND Code instead of introducing a guideline. Code rules are binding on providers, and compliance with them can be investigated by the TIO and enforced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

We also suggest that providers could give consumers more information about Customer Service Guarantee timeframes for enabling, blocking or repairing CND and about compensation if those timeframes are not met.

This and other submissions can be found here.

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