Minister for Communications, Eamon Ryan TD, today promised tough new regulations for premium rate SMS and phone services and advocated the disbandment of the Regulator of Premium Rate Telecommunications Services (RegTel).
Introducing the Broadasting Bill 2008 to the Oireachtas, Minister Ryan said: “There is right and real anger from the public in relation to premium rate text and phone services. This is a significant issue of consumer concern as children especially are inadvertently running up large bills on their mobile phones. Essentially, they are subject to a scam.”
Ryan said tighter regulation of the sector is required in order to ensure the Irish consumer is not exploited.
Currently, regulation in this area is undertaken by industry self-regulation via RegTel.
“Mobile phone providers themselves are becoming increasingly conscious of the damage of these scams to their wider market.”
However, Ryan said that in order to eliminate abusive practice, regulation in the areas needs tightening and the regulator requires real teeth.
“To this end, I will bring forward provisions in the Broadcasting Bill that make for more effective regulation in this area. I propose that RegTel in its current form be disbanded and placed under the aegis of ComReg which already has robust powers, including financial penalties, in relation to the telecommunications industry.
“This measure will help combat such rogue operators and support the majority of legitimate premium rate service providers that comply with best practice. I am confident this is a significant step forward in both consumer protection and corporate responsibility.”
By Niall Byrne