SMS content providers face tough restrictions

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SMS content providers face tough restrictions

Premium SMS providers will soon be forced to operate a business-hours customer call centre whilst mobile users will be able to permanently bar such services from their account.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a raft of new rules that the mobile content industry will be forced to comply with.

From July 2010, mobile carriers are required to provide consumers an option of permanently barring premium SMS services on their phone plans.

All content providers now also need to be registered - and ACMA will have the power to temporarily bar or permanently deregister rogue operators to prevent them selling content in Australia.

ACMA said it has also registered a "significantly improved" industry-developed Mobile Premium Services Code.

Importantly, it includes double opt-in provisions, meaning that a prospective customer will need to give two independent confirmations of a request before they can subscribe to an ongoing premium SMS service.

"Compliance with the Mobile Premium Services Code is not optional," ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said.

"[In addition], a key element of ACMA's strategy will be a rigorous monitoring regime.

"ACMA will be taking compliance with the new code rules very seriously, as we have already been doing in relation to spam on mobile phones".

While ACMA is "confident" that the package will have a significant and early impact on the market, Chapman said the regulator is also aware that the sector is fast moving.

"The package, including the code, will be reviewed in 12 months to address swiftly any shortcomings and emerging developments," he said.

Both Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the Communications Alliance, which helped develop the revised code, welcomed ACMA's announcement.

Conroy, in particular, did not rule out even tougher measures should the 12-month review be less than favourable.

"The Government put industry on notice to improve its act and industry has responded by cooperating in the development of these measures," 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."

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