5 proposed changes to our regulatory approach
15 August 2016, Simon Towler, Director of Policy and External Relations
We have launched a consultation into our regulatory approach and we want your feedback on our proposals.
Our primary role is to provide strong consumer protection. We want to ensure consumers can use premium rate services (PRS) with absolute confidence in a healthy and innovative market and to that end our Code of Practice sets standards for the industry to provide compliant premium rate services.
In our thirtieth year of regulating PRS, we are looking at how we keep pace with technological and market developments to continue to protect consumers and enable market innovation and growth.
Working alongside members from across the PRS industry, we have developed five broad proposals.
1. Analysing consumer risk
Appropriate controls, including Special conditions, are applied to certain types of services where there is an increased potential for consumer risk, harm or offence. We are proposing an objective set of characteristics against which emerging and potential services are tested.
The types of consumer risk we have identified and propose as characteristics include, financial harm, uninformed consent, unauthorised consent and vulnerable groups. If no higher risks are found, no additional controls or Special conditions will be required.
You are able to ask for exemptions from parts of the Code of Practice if you can demonstrate, or PhonepayPlus is satisfied that a Code outcome can be met in ways other than by strict adherence to a specific Code provision as long as strong levels of consumer protection are maintained. We are proposing making the process of seeking exemptions clearer and are looking at possible areas for additional exemptions.
3. Mapping the regulatory landscape for telecoms and digital retail
One of the barriers to innovation is where industry tells us it is confused about which regulations they need to comply with and which regulator is responsible for them. We want to make it as clear as possible to industry which regulator is responsible for specific issues and to identify overlaps in remits across regulators.
4. Working more closely with other regulators
PhonepayPlus already works closely with other regulators, including, Ofcom, ICO, ASA and FCA. We are proposing strengthening these arrangements to the benefit of those working in or around operator billing (charges made to a phone bill). We propose bringing together an ad hoc working group of representatives from different regulators to consider and agree a response to new business models, mechanics and proposals when they arise, with the aim of giving industry regulatory certainty more quickly than is currently the case.
5. Joint monitoring capability
PhonepayPlus has an in-house monitoring facility which is used to protect consumers by checking services are operating compliantly with our Code of Practice.
The Mobile Network Operators also work to provide strong levels of compliance in the market.
We are exploring if more consistent information could be drawn from establishing a central pool of monitoring capability across PhonepayPlus and network operators.
If you have a view on any or all of these proposals, we want to hear from you.
Further information and details of how to respond are available here.
The closing date for responses is 12 October 2016.