ACMA Excuses Optus On Premium SMS Barring For Now

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has accepted an enforceable undertaking from Optus Mobile Pty Limited that it will address its non-compliance of rules relating to customer barring of premium SMS and MMS.

The ACMA’s Barring Determination, which came into effect in July, requires carriers to provide customers with the option to bar premium SMS and MMS. Optus did not meet this deadline due to technical issues around the development of its custom barring solution.

The telco says it will make barring available by 11 October 2010, but customers can pre-register for premium SMS barring now. When Optus implements its premium message barring system, pre-registered customers will automatically be activated.

“The Barring Determination was introduced by ACMA to address consumer concerns about the unexpected high costs of some premium SMS and MMS services,” said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman. “The ACMA has accepted [Optus’s] undertaking as it is intended to deliver certainty to Optus customers as to when premium SMS barring will be introduced and will provide a number of offsetting measures in the interim,” said Mr Chapman.

Optus has also undertaken to provide its customers with information about other options for controlling access to premium SMS and MMS, including how to avoid receiving, and how to unsubscribe from, those services.

In addition, Optus has agreed to establish a dedicated team of staff with authority to deal with and resolve complaints about premium SMS and MMS, as well as deliver on extensive customer information and reporting obligations.

A number of other measures that will remain confidential until 11 October 2010 for commercial reasons, have also been agreed on by both parties. ACMA says it will apply to the Federal Court for orders to compensate people who have suffered loss or damage, should there be a breach of an enforceable undertaking. Such orders may also include directing Optus to pay a fine to the Commonwealth if it gains financially as a result of the breach.

ACMA will review its barring determinations next year, and will also consider whether mobile phone service providers should be required to allow their customers to request barring of premium messages via SMS.

Optus customers can access more information about premium SMS barring, including how to pre-register, how to make a complaint, or links to contact numbers to call for assistance from its web site at www.optus.com.au/psms. Complaints about suspected non-compliance with the undertaking can be directed to the ACMA.

The ACMA also released its Regulatory guidelines – Enforceable undertaking (No. 1) and it’s Compliance and enforcement policy today.

 

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