ACMA touts 50 per cent reduction in premium SMS complaints

Consumer safeguards introduced mid last year responsible, regulator says

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is claiming a 50 per cent reduction in premium SMS-related complaints to the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman following the introduction of its Mobile Premium Services Industry (MPS) Code in July last year.

The Code includes detailed rules — such as the stipulation that content suppliers obtain two independent confirmations of consent from consumers before supplying a premium SMS and MMS subscription service — regulating mobile carriage service providers, aggregators and content suppliers providing premium SMS/MMS services to consumers.

The news follows the ACMA’s announcement that it intends to push ahead with its determination, originally announced in May 2009, to require mobile carriage service providers to implement the ability to bar premium SMS or MMS services by 1 July 2010

The rule would allow consumers to cease all premium SMS billing activity on their mobile phone account by contacting their service provider. The ACMA is also working with telcos to allow consumers to request premium SMS barring via standard SMS.

In addition to the premium SMS barring, the ACMA has said it also proposing to introduce two new rules — ‘Do Not Contract’ and ‘Do Not Bill’.

The Do Not Contact rule aims to prohibit aggregators from contracting with a content supplier to deliver that content supplier’s premium SMS or MMS services if the content supplier has not completed the registration process with the Communications Alliance.

According to ACMA, registration would increase the visibility, and therefore the accountability, of content suppliers and aggregator.

The Do Not Bill rule aims to protect users of premium SMS or MMS services from the behaviours of particular content suppliers or aggregators which have been found by the ACMA to have breached the MPS Code.

Under the rule, mobile carriage service providers may be directed by the ACMA to suspend billing customers for premium SMS/MMS services of a named content supplier or aggregator for a period of up to three years, according to ACMA.

Failure to comply with either rule would be a breach of section 101 of the Act and consequently may be subject to civil penalties of up to $10 million for a body corporate and up to $50,000 for an individual or partnership, per breach.

[[xref:http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_312060|Public submissions on the rules| Consultation paper relating to the Telecommunications Service Provider (Mobile Premium Services) Determination 2010 (No. 2) and related matters |can be made online until 9 April 2010.

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