The government of Norway has stepped in to put a stop to many SMS plans that charge consumers an on-going premium after they purchase certain things such as ringtones and minor applications for their devices. Through a crack-down on the industry and the people who regulate it, SMS content providers will be forced to be upfront with consumers about the cost of “on-going messaging plans” from here on out. If all goes well, other countries, including the US and many European countries, will adopt the same regulation
Hoping to make the entire industry more transparent, the government is forcing providers to come clean about their subscription plans and advertising, as well as allow consumers to bar ongoing services from July 1, 2010. Beyond that, new regulation will force consumers to verify their acceptance of certain plans twice under a new “double opt-in” policy that will soon take effect.
In Norway, the testing ground for the new policies, the Mobile Premium Services code, jointly created by government and the industry body the Communications Alliance, will require all premium SMS operators to register on a list, and could see repeat offenders fined up to A$250,000 (US$188,718) in the Federal Court. Having a central registry of operators will make tracking and punishing offenders of the policies much easier and more effective than it has been in the past. In addition, providers will be banned from dealing with operators not registered on the industry list.
This new code and subsequent policies will be reviewed for a 12-month period to see how everything plays out. These kind of deceptive practices are ruining legitimate SMS marketing tactics and bringing bad light, one again, to SMS as an advertising medium that in reality is a huge asset to mobile marketing as a whole.