The Australian Communications and Media Authority has announced a package of measures designed to smash rogue premium SMS operators.
The industry was already expecting the Mobile Premium Services Code, which was finalised a few months ago and will take effect on 1 July 2009.
But in a move ACMA hopes will be decisive, it has revealed three other weapons in the battle against shonky premium SMS outfits.
ACMA to make ‘service provider determinations’
Under section 99 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, ACMA can make ‘mini-laws’ for carriage service providers on a range of topics. They’re called ‘service provider determinations’. ACMA proposes to make three new rules.
‘Do not contract’ rule
A register of premium SMS content providers and aggregators will be established. Obviously, the rules for listing on the register will be aimed at keeping the shonks out – especially the shadowy offshore operators.
ACMA’s rule will then ban mobile carriage service providers and aggregators from contracting with content providers and aggregators who are not on the register.
‘Do not bill’ rule
ACMA’s rule will ‘sin bin’ content providers and aggregators responsible for serious breaches of the Mobile Premium Services Code for a specified period. They won’t be allowed to operate in the Australian market for their penalty period.
‘SMS barring’ rule
ACMA’s new rule will mandate universal ability for customers to bar premium SMS messages by July 2010.
Our take on it
This can work.
Combined with the Mobile Premium Services Code and existing powers under the Spam Act and the Trade Practices Act, the new service provider determinations have the capacity to clean up the premium SMS industry.
We only hope the new determinations won’t contain loopholes that allow existing arrangements to continue or permit Australian mobile operators from continuing to collect for pariah operators in any circumstances. If ACMA covers those issues, it’s a great job.