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PhonepayPlus publishes public consultation on Information Connection and Signposting Services

24 April 2013

PhonepayPlus today publishes a further public consultation on a proposed prior permission regime for Information, Connection and/or Signposting Services (ICSS). An initial consultation on ICSS closed on 27 September 2012. Both consultations address the issue of Information, Connection and/or Signposting Services.  These are premium rate services that are usually promoted prominently on search engines such as Google or Bing, or sometimes on classified ads websites such as Gumtree, and, after further consideration, these can be defined as follows:

“Premium rate services, excluding full national directory enquiry services, that provide connection to specific organisations, businesses and/or services located or provided in the UK; and/or which provide information, advice, and/or assistance relating to such specific organisations, businesses and/or services.”

The initial consultation was prompted by a significant number of complaints about these services, including from the public service and commercial organisations whose helplines or information ICSS providers associate themselves.

On the basis of responses to the initial consultation, including responses from ICSS providers, PhonepayPlus considered it necessary to commission independent research to gain further quantitative and qualitative evidence relating to the user and public perception of ICSS and to understand the consumer experience of these services. PhonepayPlus has reviewed and considered this evidence in relation to the proposed regulation of ICSS and is issuing this consultation following that review.

In the consultation issued today, PhonepayPlus proposes a prior permissions regime to ensure that such services can only operate if PhonepayPlus is satisfied that they meet the conditions and enhanced obligations specified in the prior permissions regime.

The 6-week consultation on these proposals closes on 5 June 2013 and details of how to respond are included in the consultation document. We are particularly eager to receive feedback to these proposals from providers of ICSS, those businesses and organisations that ICSS associate themselves with and consumer groups. We would welcome further comments from all those companies and individuals who responded to the 2012 ICSS review consultation.