We are the UK regulator for content, goods and services charged to a phone bill.

Project 30 Regulatory framework publications

17 August 2016

PhonepayPlus today publishes a consultation on its regulatory framework, a consultation on Special conditions for online competition and adult services and refreshed industry Guidance.

In our thirtieth year of regulating the premium rate services (PRS) market, we are furthering a set of initiatives, both inward and outward looking, which are designed to ensure that PhonepayPlus remains fit for purpose, collectively known as Project 30. One initiative is our regulatory framework workstream looking at what we could improve to best support innovation and growth without diminishing consumer protection.

This work is to ensure that our regulatory approach remains capable of keeping pace with developments in the market and technology, whilst ensuring everyone can use premium rate services with confidence.

Our regulatory framework consultation proposes:

  • development of an objective framework against which to assess whether services are ‘higher risk’;
  • a clear process by which Exemptions from the Code will be applied;
  • scoping out support from relevant regulators for regulatory handling of new digital services or payment models and other appropriate joint working and considering the value of commissioning a ‘regulatory map’;
  • joint monitoring to better join up the intelligence available to both the regulator and the industry.

Further information, including details on the proposed changes and how to respond to the consultation are available in the policy statement and consultation document.

The deadline for responses is 12 October 2016.

Consultation on Special conditions

In response to recent consumer harm, we are proposing additional regulatory requirements, in the form of Special conditions, for online competition and adult services.

PhonepayPlus receives disproportionately high complaint numbers for online competition and adult services. Independent consumer journey research commissioned by PhonepayPlus and undertaken by Craft Realities (pdf) into online competition and adult services, highlighted a number of concerns including:

  • It is quite possible for a consumer to provide unintentional consent to an online competition or online adult service.
  • Opt in and opt out mechanisms are insufficiently robust or transparent from a consumer perspective.
  • In relation to subscription online competition and adult services, consumers can remain unaware that consent to recurring charges has been given.

The proposed new requirements are based on the risks posed to consumers and are designed to address these concerns. Proposals have been discussed with an industry working group prior to formal consultation. Further information is contained in the Special conditions for online competition and online adult premium rate services consultation.

The deadline for responses is 12 October 2016.

Revised Guidance on Method of exit and Subscription services

Revised Guidance is published today to make regulatory expectations on exiting premium rate services and on the operation of subscription type services clearer for providers of PRS, in order to raise standards for consumers.

Changes include modifying text to improve accessibility and impact and we seek to clarify the purpose and content of Guidance itself.

The revised Guidance has been developed following consideration of feedback received during the consultation, which concluded in April, and findings from the consumer journey research.