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mTouche Fined $150,000 Over Unauthorised Use of End User Information and Unsolicited, Chargeable SMSes

Mobile content provider, mTouche, was fined today $150,000 for allowing its corporate customer, MyGlobalfun Inc, to access its customer database to send out almost 300,000 unsolicited and chargeable Chinese New Year short ...

Singapore, 12 April 2006 | For Immediate Release

Telcos Required to Deal with Mobile Content Complaints

Mobile content provider, mTouche, was fined today $150,000 for allowing its corporate customer, MyGlobalfun Inc, to access its customer database to send out almost 300,000 unsolicited and chargeable Chinese New Year short message services (SMS) greetings. IDA has concluded its investigation and found mTouche to be in breach of the requirements under the Telecom Competition Code.

Specifically, mTouche failed to inform mobile end users that they would be charged for the SMS sent1; they did not get end users' consent before sending out chargeable and unsolicited SMSes2; they disclosed their end users' mobile phone numbers to a third-party without the mobile end users' prior consent3.

mTouche is required to pay the fine within 21 days from today, failing which IDA may take legal action against it.

The fine on mTouche today is in addition to the six months suspension of mTouche's Services-Based Class Licence, in effect since 21 February 2006. The suspension was for mTouche's breach of its licence when it let MyGlobalfun, its China-based corporate customer, send out chargeable SMSes. mTouche was only licensed to allow its corporate customers to send free messages.

Between 30 January and 5 February, more than 300,000 mobile end users were charged $1 for each SMS greeting sent by mTouche on behalf of My Globalfun. mTouche has since worked with the mobile operators to reverse all the charges.

IDA takes a serious view of how mobile content providers and mobile operators handle end user information, and provide services to end users. Rules are in place to firmly deal with errant licensees that disregard the confidentiality of their customer database, or charge for unsolicited SMSes or services, without first getting the end users' consent. Those who blatantly disregard such rules face heavy enforcement actions.

IDA also disagrees with the view that mobile operators have no obligation to their subscribers to resolve billing disputes relating to third party mobile content providers for which the mobile operators are the billing agents. To be fair to consumers, IDA has required the three mobile operators (SingTel Mobile, StarHub Mobile and MobileOne) to treat and handle all complaints and disputed charges raised by their subscribers in a non-discriminatory and fair manner, regardless of whether these complaints and disputed charges relate to the operators' own telecommunication services or the services of mobile content providers for which the operators are the billing agents. IDA further warns that it will not hesitate to impose further regulatory measures it deems appropriate to ensure that the mobile operators' customer handling processes and bill collection procedures are consistent and fair to consumers. (Please see Annex - Letter to mobile operators, 'Billing Complaints and Disputes' (24.82KB))

The Telecom Competition Code requires IDA's licensees such as mobile content providers and mobile operators to ensure End User Service Information is not given to third parties unless the subscriber has given consent. The proposed Spam Control Bill will further address mobile spam, including the possibility of an unsubscribed and labelling framework for all unsolicited marketing messages sent to mobile phones. This proposed framework will address concerns over mobile marketing-related matters and will apply to all mobile marketers. The Bill is expected to be introduced later this year.


ISSUED BY CORPORATE & MARKETING COMMUNICATION DIVISION
INFOCOMM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY OF SINGAPORE

Notes to Editor:

1 Telecoms Competition Code 2005 (Code) Section 3.3.3 - No Charges for Unsolicited Telecommunications

2Code Section 3.2.2 - Duty to Disclose Prices, Terms and Conditions

3Code Section 3.2.6.2 - Prohibition on Unauthorised Use of End User Service Information

The Code can be read in full on IDA's website, https://www.imda.gov.sg/, under the Policy and Regulation Frameworks section.

About Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) is committed to growing Singapore into a dynamic global infocomm hub. IDA uses an integrated approach to developing infocommunications in Singapore. This involves nurturing a competitive telecoms market as well as a conducive business environment with programmes and schemes for both local and international companies.For more information, visit https://www.imda.gov.sg/  

For media clarification, please contact:

HO Hwei Ling (Ms)
Assistant Director, Corporate and Marketing Communication
Tel : +65 6211 1996
Fax : +65-6211 2227
Email : ho_hwei_ling@imda.gov.sg

LAST UPDATED: 17 MAR 2023