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ICSTIS WELCOMES NEW CODE FOR CONTENT OF MOBILE PHONES

22 January 2004


Premium rate services regulator ICSTIS today welcomed this week's launch of a UK Code of Practice for the self-regulation of new forms of content on mobile phones. The joint initiative, from the mobile operators in the UK, aims to protect children from adult content accessible on mobile phones.


Premium rate regulator welcomes new code of practice for new forms of content on mobile phones

Orange, O2, T-Mobile, Vodafone, Virgin and Hutchinson 3G have signed up to a Code of Practice, which sets out their plans to set up a body to rate commercial content that is unsuitable for under-18s.

The Code covers images, video, gambling, games, chatrooms and Internet access. It recognises that any of these services, if delivered using a premium rate charge for payment, will continue to be regulated by ICSTIS - together with 'traditional' premium rate services such as voice and SMS services.

ICSTIS Director George Kidd welcomed the initiative: "Mobile phones with enhanced features, such as video-playing capabilities, picture messaging and Internet browsing, are becoming increasingly available. These features give access to an exciting world of content-rich entertainment and information, but we need to recognise that this new world also presents challenges - especially when it comes to protecting children.

"The new Code is a welcome initiative, using new technological capabilities to deliver protection as well as products. There are a minority of people out there who are ready to use communications technologies and premium rate payments to make a quick buck out of inappropriate content, costly 'cons' and potentially dangerous contact services without regard for the harm they do to the public. We look forward to the new Code sitting alongside our existing regulation of premium rate services and the work of the Internet Watch Foundation to provide an environment in which everyone can access and enjoy mobile content safely.

"Clear messages to the public are going to be key. People need to know what their phones can do, how they may be paying for content, what they can expect of their networks, regulators and others, and what they can and should do for themselves in terms of managing what can be accessed on their phones and on their children's phones. Everyone has a vital role to play in getting these messages across."

For more information, please contact:
Rob Dwight Tel: 020 7940 7408 / rdwight@icstis.org.uk

NOTES

  • ICSTIS, the Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services, is the industry-funded regulatory body for all premium rate charged telecommunications services. We regulate services in their entirety - their content, promotion and overall operation - through our Code of Practice. We investigate complaints, and have the power to fine companies and bar access to services if the Code is breached. We can also bar the individual(s) behind a company from running any other premium rate services under any company name on any telephone network for a defined period.
  • Services are advertised on either 090 dialling codes or, in the case of text services, on four or five digit short codes followed by a descriptive key word (for example, 82828 VOTE or 62626 CHAT). In addition, we regulate the new Directory Enquiry services (offered on 118XXX numbers) that were introduced in December 2002.
  • Premium rate services offer information and entertainment via phone, fax, PC (e-mail, Internet, bulletin board), mobile (SMS/WAP) or interactive digital TV. Services range from sports, voting and sex lines to competition, chat and business information services, and can vary in cost from 10 pence per call to £1.50 per minute. Approximately 30,000 services are in operation at any one time, generating estimated annual revenue of £1 billion in 2002/3.

Consumers with queries or complaints about premium rate services can contact us by:

  • completing our online complaints form at www.icstis.org.uk calling our free helpline on 0800 500 212 (8.00am-8.00pm, Monday-Friday)
  • writing to us at ICSTIS, FREEPOST WC5468, London SE1 2BR