Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Finally - response to conduct by high cost SMS service providers



The offensive conduct of these so called 'premium' providers - even
that label is totally off the mark - has been a particular bug bear of
mine for some time.

It is extremely unfortunate that the regulators, ACMA and for that
matter, the ACCC and/or state consumer protection bodies have taken so
long to react to this insidious conduct.

It will be interesting to see how well this code and statutory
provisions are monitored and enforced.

The providers behind this conduct should be fundamentally more
accessible and susceptible to regulatory measures and sanctions than
spammers, a bit of late night TV watching and reading of the right
print media by ACMA monitors will go a long way to dealing with the

These measures are a good start, but a few specific issues stood out
based on my quick review

- the advertising to under 15 year olds - difficult to define in
- the 'Premium' SMS barring rule - the option for customers to bar
premium SMS messages by July 2010 - should be the default setting on
mobile phones/mobile networks - many mobile carriers have their
customers services barred from international calls - requiring an 'opt
in' to access these services - a similar approach would work well in
regard to the ability to receive these 'premium' text messages.
- the enhanced 'double opt-in' procedure should require full
disclosure of all costs and opt out details

Now we just need some action on the conduct of the mobile phone

- use of the word 'caps' for products that are anything but, and;

- advertising 'included calls' as meaningless dollar amounts, rather
than actual minutes (as is the practice elsewhere - such as the USA).

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