ACMA warns regulation could hold NFC back

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ACMA warns regulation could hold NFC back

Calls for cross-agency framework.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is warning that a fragmented regulatory approach to Near Field Communications (NFC) could stifle its development and adoption.

The regulator said in a discussion paper (pdf) that regulation of "emerging technology developments" in general cut across a number of different agencies, which developed "separate responses".

ACMA's role in policing NFC would cover the creation of codes for consumer protection, and spectrum planning and management.

Corporate regulator ASIC would need to ensure electronic payments using NFC complied with the e-Payments code, and with corporations law.

The ACCC would also have a "fair-trading" role, while the Attorney-General's Department and Office of the Australian Information Commissioner would need to oversee privacy implications of NFC usage and growth.

"There is [a] risk of an overall loss of regulatory coherence," the ACMA said.

"Existing regulation may only partially address specific aspects of the NFC service delivery model.

"A single regulatory framework for addressing the changing dimensions of NFC-enabled activities potentially offers a more coherent arrangement for business and consumers."

The paper doesn't attempt to answer how such a framework might be put together; it suggests only that the ACMA is likely to have an "ongoing regulatory involvement" in NFC.

What it does suggest is the creation of some form of a "common NFC payments framework" that would govern implementation across telecommunications and finance markets.

It argued the absence of a standard approach could slow mass-market adoption of NFC in Australia.

The ACMA is also encouraging some form of self or co-regulation that identifies who is responsible in an NFC system for "consumer complaints and redress arrangements".

Industry feedback on the paper is encouraged, though no deadline is set for submissions.

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