Australia's communications watchdog will be able to strangle the revenue streams of rogue operators of premium SMS and MMS services for up to three years under tough new powers revealed today.
The new powers come into effect on November 3, 2010, according to a statement by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
ACMA said it will have the power to issue "a temporary Do Not Bill order to stop suspect content suppliers from charging customers while it investigates a service."
It can also issue a "final order preventing a company from charging for up to three years" if the content services firm was found to have breached the Mobile Premium Service Code "in a way that causes significant financial harm to consumers."
"This will be the toughest sanction the ACMA will be able to impose against premium SMS and MMS providers who break the rules," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said.
"It cuts straight to the heart of industry's rogue element by drying up their revenue stream."
Chapman said the new rules built on other recent changes that enabled telecommunications customers to place a bar on premium services for their account, as well as the industry-developed Mobile Premium Services Code.
"The rules introduced by the ACMA have seen complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman about premium SMS and MMS drop by over two-thirds in the previous twelve months," Chapman said.
"This further step is intended to prevent unscrupulous operators profiting from non-compliance."