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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter

Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Raiche, Holly --- "Report to the Minister for Communications: Wireless Peronal Communications Services" [1994] PrivLawPRpr 43; (1994) 1(3) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 57

Report to the Minister for Communications: Wireless Personal Communications Services

Australian Telecommunications Authority (AUSTEL) August 1993

In November 1992, the Minister required AUSTEL to investigate and report on ''emerging technologies for the delivery of wireless personal communications' to inform governments on emerging issues. AUSTEL's final Report was submitted in August 1993 and released publicly by the government in December 1993. It deals with a range of technology issues arising from wireless personal communication services (WPCS), including a brief mention of privacy (Chapter 10).

The Report, quoting largely from the substantial submission of the Australian Privacy Commissioner, listed two main privacy issues: (a) the easier interception of telephone communications using spectrum; and (b) the potential for location information on an individual made possible through the use of universal personal telecommunications (UPT), where telephone numbers are allocated to an individual not a location.

The Report accepted both concerns as valid. The possibility of easier interception of wireless communications was countered, according to the Report, by the use of digital communications which ''offer significantly better protection than current analogue cellular and cordless telephony'. The issues arising from UPT can be dealt with, it said, through AUSTEL's Numbering Advisory Committee and other AUSTEL Committee's including the yet-to-be-formed Telecommunications Privacy Committee recommended in AUSTEL's 1992 report on telecommunications privacy.

The Privacy Commissioner had also noted in his submission that the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 (Cth) does not apply to the interception of communications which rely entirely on radio communications, and recommended that it should be strengthened to cover all conversations or messages transmitted by radio communications.

Holly Raiche

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