Telcos to get expanded scam-blocking powers through telecommunications law amendment

The federal government has announced it will amend telecommunications legislation to provide telcos with the ability to block scam SMS messages. 

“The regulatory amendment we have enacted provides the telecommunications sector with the authority they need to block malicious SMS messages at scale and protect the Australian public from scammers,” Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said.

“The Morrison government is committed to collaborating with industry to tackle new and emerging threats to the Australian community, including scams that exploit digital technologies for nefarious ends.”

The changes entail amending the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act) so that telcos can intercept malicious SMS messages to be able to block them.

The regulatory amendments have been in development for some time, with Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo telling Senate Estimates that his department had been in talks with the telecommunications industry to provide more powers to telcos for blocking spam and malicious content through the TIA Act.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn said in light of the regulatory changes, his telco was now developing a new cyber safety capability designed to automatically detect and block scam SMS messages as they travel across its network. 

The capability is currently being run as a pilot inside Telstra

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