Premium mobile services face tougher laws

Heavy-breathers must declare their costs

Premium mobile service providers are again under surveillance by the communications regulator over getting away with misleading practices.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has lodged a new Mobile Premium Services Industry Code, which outlines tougher rules for the advertising and provision of premium rate SMS and MMS services.

The new code, effective from 1 June, has the power to take service providers to the Federal Court for non compliance with the threat of a pecuniary penalty of up to $AU250,000.

The MPS Code operates in conjunction with two service provider determinations which give customers the choice to bar access to all mobile premium services and require all service providers to be listed on an industry register. The ACMA is currently reviewing the operation of these rules to ensure they are effective.

The previous code was originally put in place in mid 2009 following an explosion of customer complaints about mobile premium services. The ACMA reports that while complaints have fallen 90 per cent from their peak, requirements in the new code will make the prices, terms and conditions of these services even clearer to consumers.

The new code also introduces a requirement for mobile carriers to monitor and report to the ACMA on content providers’ compliance with the code. ®

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