The registration of the Mobile Premium Services Industry Code will enhance consumer confidence and assist in stamping out rogue content providers who fail to meet required standards of transparency and accountability to customers, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Chris Althaus, said today.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority announced the registration of a new Code this week. The Code, which has legal force from July 1, 2009, sets out detailed rules covering a range of important matters including procedures to be followed for subscribing to premium SMS services; the banning of advertisements targeted at children under 15; strict rules about how advertisements (and charges) are displayed; and improved complaints handling obligations of companies supplying premium SMS services.
Mr Althaus said the mobile telecommunications industry supported the development of the new Code and viewed it as a strong response to consumer concerns.
The new Code will require all content providers to be registered. While the registry will be set up by industry, The ACMA will be making a service provider determination that will allow for known rogue operators to be de-registered, thus preventing them from supplying services to the Australian market.
Mr Althaus said carriers had fined and suspended and fined content service providers who had repeatedly breached standards.
The industry has also developed a website www.19sms.com.au designed specifically to provide consumers with comprehensive, easy to use advice on mobile premium services. AMTA’s consumer tips on premium services can be viewed at www.amta.org.au
Mr Althaus said the industry had heeded the Government’s strong message to improve consumer protections for mobile premium services.
The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said the mobile phone industry has been sent a clear message to purge misleading practices and improve consumer protection.
“New enforceable rules will provide a better deal for consumers when it comes to services such as premium messages”, he said.
“Misleading practices in the mobile industry will not be tolerated and providers must ensure better protection for consumers.”
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has approved a comprehensive package of measures to address consumer concerns on premium SMS services. The measures include a new Mobile Premium Services code, developed in cooperation with industry.
ACMA will also be able to enforce new rules to prevent premium SMS suppliers responsible for serious breaches from operating in the market. Improvements for consumers include:
obliging carriers to allow consumers to bar services
better complaint handling procedures
new advertising requirements
more transparency in the distribution chain
greater clarity for consumers during subscription processes.
“The Rudd Government wants to see consumers in the telecommunications market getting the level of service that they expect”, Senator Conroy said.
“The Government has put the industry on notice to improve its act and industry has responded by cooperating in the development of these measures.”
“This new code will be reviewed after 12 months, giving the Government opportunity to closely examine its operation, including the effectiveness of the dispute resolution framework.”
“I am optimistic that this new code will result in enhanced levels of confidence for consumers when dealing with the industry. However, should problems arise in the future the Government will look to further strengthen the measures announced today.”