Conroy Aims To Stop SMS Predators

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy puts measures in place to stop dodgy SMS vendors targetting susceptible consumers

Companies trying to make money from SMS ventures that mislead consumers into buying their products will now be answerable to a set of measures set up by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), with the approval of Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

“New enforceable rules will provide a better deal for consumers when it comes to services such as premium messages,” Conroy said. “Misleading practices in the mobile industry will not be tolerated and providers must ensure better protection for consumers.”

Measures developed by the ACMA 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.

These rules are aimed at companies that, through surreptitious means, get unwitting mobile phone users to sign up to their service, or are ambiguous and vague as to what signing up to the service will cost them. Conroy’s office says SMS providers could face fines of up to $250,000 if they are found to be at fault – this includes reality shows and chat line providers.

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.

“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,” Conroy said. “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.”