Telecommunications Act 1984

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The Telecommunications Act 1984[1]
Long title An Act to provide for the appointment and functions of a Director General of Telecommunications; to abolish British Telecommunications’ exclusive privilege with respect to telecommunications and to make new provision with respect to the provision of telecommunication services and certain related services; to make provision, in substitution for the Telegraph Acts 1863 to 1916 and Part IV of the Post Office Act 1969, for the matters there dealt with and related matters; to provide for the vesting of property, rights and liabilities of British Telecommunications in a company nominated by the Secretary of State and the subsequent dissolution of British Telecommunications; to make provision with respect to the finances of that company; to amend the Wireless Telegraphy Acts 1949 to 1967, to make further provision for facilitating enforcement of those Acts and otherwise to make provision with respect to wireless telegraphy apparatus and certain related apparatus; to give statutory authority for the payment out of money provided by Parliament of expenses incurred by the Secretary of State in providing a radio interference service; to increase the maximum number of members of British Telecommunications pending its dissolution; and for connected purposes.
Citation 1984 c 12
Royal Assent 12 April 1984
Text of statute as originally enacted
Revised text of statute as amended

The Telecommunications Act 1984 (c 12) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The rules for the industry are now contained in the Communications Act 2003.


The provisions of the act included the following:

  • Privatising British Telecom.
  • Establishing Oftel as a telecommunications regulator.
  • Setting standards for modems according to BABT rules.
  • Criminalising indecent, offensive or threatening phone calls.

Telecoms regulation[edit]

To protect consumers' interests and market competition, the Telecommunications Act 1984 stipulates that Telecom administration should perform a range of duties, including top and specific duties such as promotion general responsibility and community needs.[2] The Telecommunications Act 1984 makes it criminal offence to run a telecommunications system in the UK, or to make a connection to another system without a license.[3]


The argument that because the Telecommunications Act 1984 preceded the introduction of social media that its application is limited has been criticised.[4] The use of the Telecommunications Act 1988 by the police to bring prosecutions against those expressing opinions about the police has been questioned.[5]


  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by section 110(1) of this Act.
  2. ^ Zhang, H. (2014, January). Cyber Law in the United Kingdom: Review and Comment. In 2014 International Conference on Management, Education and Social Science (ICMESS 2014). Atlantis Press.
  3. ^ Latipulhayat, A. (2013). Telecommunications Licensing Regime: A New Method of State Control After Privatisation of Telecommunications. Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology, 9(1), 24-35.
  4. ^ Bishop, J. (2013). The art of trolling law enforcement: a review and model for implementing ‘flame trolling'legislation enacted in Great Britain (1981–2012). International Review of Law, Computers & Technology, 27(3), 301-318.
  5. ^ Bishop, J. (2012). Scope and limitations in the government of wales act 2006 for tackling internet abuses in the form of ‘flame trolling’. Statute Law Review, 33(2), 207-216.

See also[edit]