ACA launches new penalty system

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The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is launching new penalty provisions for breaches of the Telecommunications Act, in a move designed to simplify industry regulation.

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) is launching new penalty provisions for breaches of the Telecommunications Act, in a move designed to simplify industry regulation.

Dr Bob Horton, acting chairman at the ACA, argued that the scheme should allow the watchdog to act more swiftly in cases of non-compliance. “The new scheme is less onerous with fewer costs for the ACA and the industry,” Horton said. “Where the infringement notice is accepted, legal representation and court costs are avoided.”

The watchdog now has the power to issue infringement notices for breaches of technical regulations, rather than having to prosecute offenders through the courts, under new penalty provisions which came into effect in December.

“Industry will benefit by having the option of paying a fine rather than being prosecuted,” Horton said. “In the latter case, a criminal conviction may be recorded with the potential for significant harm to business and personal reputation.”

According to a statement, infringement notices can be for offences such as unauthorised labelling and connection of telecommunications customer equipment or customer cabling; and contravention of cabling provider rules. These offences are in section 453 of the Telecommunications Act.

A similar penalty infringement notice system introduced under the Radiocommunications Act had created a cost-effective alternative to prosecution and increased industry compliance to regulations, Horton said.

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