Consumer Action support removing the registration period for the Do Not Call Register so that registration is indefinite (Option Three in the Discussion Paper[i]). Customers actively opt out of unsolicited marketing by registering. This decision should not be limited by an expiry date.
As the discussion paper explains, the original rationale for a limited period of registration was to prevent inaccuracies as consumers change phone numbers without removing the old number from the register.[ii] But this is now less of a concern as landline use continues to fall, and mobile numbers are fully portable.
If the registration period is limited (as in Options One and Two), the customer need to be continually vigilant to ensure that their number remains on the register. This would be a particular concern if the period were only three years as in Option 1. It means that unless the customer is particularly alert, they will likely have periods of time where they have not reregistered after the expiry of the registration period, and will receive marketing. This is despite the customer making a clear statement by originally going on the register that they do not want this to be the case. If customers have signed up to the Register, it seems clear that their intention is likely to be that they wish to stay on the register.
In the long term, the register should be redesigned to operate the same way as the Spam Act 2003 (Cth), so consumers cannot receive marketing unless they ‘opt-in’ to receive it, rather than the current Do Not Call system where consumers are assumed to want marketing unless they opt out. The Department of Communications points out in its discussion paper that at the current rate of registration, it is possible that the majority of households will be registered.[iii] So, it makes sense to have an opt-in model for unsolicited marketing calls, rather than an opt-out model like the Do Not Call Register.
Finally, in any case, where a customer does not want to remain on the register, they are able to deregister at any point. This ensures that people retain their right to choose whether they receive unsolicited marketing calls.