Telemarketing heads list of privacy concerns

Friday, 2 June 2006: Telemarketers who intrude into home life was the most common privacy grievance raised by callers on the first day of a National Privacy Phone-In, said the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Almost 75% of callers raised concerns about the volume and persistence of unsolicited calls they received from telemarketers, said ALRC President Professor David Weisbrot.

“People told us that they might receive more than a dozen calls from telemarketers in a night. Others have complained that they continue to receive calls from the same company despite repeatedly saying that they are not interested in the company’s products. It’s clearly something that people find very frustrating,” he said.

Some of the other privacy concerns raised by callers included:

  • how private sector and government agencies handle their personal information;
  • the security of their personal health information;
  • difficulties in being able to access and correct their personal information;
  • video surveillance in public places; and
  • introduction of a national smart card for access to government services.

More than 580 people took part in the first day of the National Privacy Phone-In, which is an opportunity for members of the public to share their views, concerns and experiences of privacy protection.

The National Privacy Phone-In continues today, Friday 2 June. People can phone 1300 653 418 or provide comments online at The Phone-In kicks off a major inquiry into the federal Privacy Act.

ALRC Commissioner, Associate Professor Les McCrimmon—who is leading the privacy inquiry— said that the purpose of the Phone-In is to invite members of the public to help the ALRC determine priorities for the protection of privacy.

“We want to hear callers’ personal stories about when they have felt their privacy has not been respected, how their complaints have been handled and whether their concerns ultimately have been addressed.”

People can take part by phoning 1300 653 418, between 9:00am and 5:00pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Friday 2 June. The maximum call charge is 25 cents. Comments can also be provided online at The purpose of the National Privacy Phone-In is to gather information on public perceptions of privacy protection. The ALRC cannot give legal advice on individual complaints.