Ireland soothes South Pacific over rogue dialler crackdown

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Ireland has moved to reassure South-Pacific states that legitimate calls to these destinations will not be affected by proposed measures against auto-dialler programmes.

Auto-dialler programmes have plagued Irish phone users since the beginning of the year. The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), Ireland's phone regulator, has received some 300 phones calls from consumers regarding excessive charges arising from dialler programmes, with losses reaching €2,000 in some cases. But new guidelines should help to minimise the threat of auto-dialler.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be obliged to keep their consumers informed about free or low-cost solutions that eliminate the dialler programme from PCs and block it from re-installing itself at a later date.

Under the new measures, telecoms operators will be required to suspend direct dial access to a number of destinations which have been shown to be related to auto-dialling programmes, such as the Cook Islands and Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

This guideline has caused consternation among representatives of South Pacific countries, some of whom are planning to come to Dublin next week to lobby the government. Robert Sisilo, the Solomon Islands ambassador to the EU, has even questioned the legality of ComReg's proposed ban.

However, ComReg pointed out on Friday (24 September) that it is compiling a list of legitimate phone numbers to these destinations that will not be blocked under the new guidelines. Numbers for this list will need to be submitted to ComReg prior to 4 October, when the guidelines come into effect.

Dialling programmes provide a way for certain websites to charge consumers for visiting their sites. These are typically associated with adult sites, but also feature on a range of sites offering premium content. Users are requested to download the dialling programme prior to being allowed to view content on the sites. Placing an autodialler programme on a website is legal; however, problems arise when rogue dialling programmes download without users' permission.

ComReg said it will liaise with ISPs and telephone operators to ensure that its proposed guidelines are put in place.

© ENN

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Related link

ComReg policy statement of rogue diallers (PDF)

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