AUSTRALIA’S biggest telcos are being urged to stop calling their network “telecommunications boxes”, after a US-based privacy advocacy group filed a complaint.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has warned it will consider the complaint on Wednesday and if it determines that the use of the term is unlawful, the companies could face fines.
“As a matter of federal policy, the Commission will consider an appropriate remedy against telecommunications companies if the use or misuse of the word ‘telecommunication box’ is not consistent with a lawful purpose,” the agency said in a statement.
The term “telecommunication boxes” was first used in the United States in 2004 to describe a box on a telecommunications network where a data packet can be sent from one end to the other.
It has since been used by many of the world’s biggest telco companies including Vodafone, Virgin Media, and Optus.
But in a complaint filed in federal court in Washington DC on Monday, the National Privacy Project (NPP) said it had been contacted by three telcos with a combined market value of more than $US7 billion who had told customers the term was no longer legal.
The NPP said it was seeking the end-user’s name and contact details to be published on the website of the FTC.
“If the names, addresses, phone numbers, and other personal information of those using these devices are not available to the public, it is reasonable to conclude that such devices are used solely for telecommunications purposes and are therefore not telecommunications,” the complaint read.
The complaint is the first time the FTC has been made aware of the use and misuse of the phrase “telephone box”, the NPP’s lawyer, Robert Weiss, told the ABC.
“The term ‘box’ has been in common use in the public domain since the 1800s and it has no legal basis,” Mr Weiss said.
“It is only when telecommunications companies are aware of a public use or misuse of this term that they may be subject to legal liability.”
He said the complaint was “unprecedented” in its scope and the amount of money involved.
“What we’re really asking for is for the telcos to stop talking about their networks as ‘telecom boxes’,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Telstra said the company would look into the complaint.
“We do not have a problem with the word, but we would like to see a clearer definition of the meaning of the ‘telephone’ to be clear,” she said.
Topics:internet-technology,technology-and-communication,government-and.parliament,consumer-protection,consumerism,law-crime-and -fraud,internet-culture,internet,advertising,telephone-services,internet–online,us, united-statesFirst posted October 02, 2018 05:58:47Contact Adrian Fennelly