What are the principal consumer protection regulations that apply specifically to telecoms services?
Technology (3rd edition)
The Law specifies the rules concerning service provision to the consumers and protection of them, which are presented below.
Service providers shall, as a rule, provide services to the public upon reasonable requirements. However, a service provider may refuse to provide retail services to customers, terminate or interrupt the provision thereof to customers on the basis of the tariff or the agreement concluded with them, where:
- its actions do not result in discrimination between similarly situated subscribers, and the grounds for refusal are explicitly set out under the tariff, and in case of a non-dominant service provider not filing fixed tariffs – under the contract;
- end-user has connected a non-certified terminal equipment to the public electronic communications network, or the service provider has revealed an apparent physical or technical damage caused to such network;
- end-user fails to file the information required under the tariff for the given services, identification data of connection point with the public communications network or the address which allows to provide the required services;
- end-user has failed to pay for electronic communications services provided thereto by the same service provider.
In any case, a service provider shall not refuse to provide services to any end-user in bankruptcy or liquidation process unless the end-user declines to make the minimum deposit required under the tariff.
A person who files an application for a public electronic communications service may withdraw the application at any time before the commencement of the delivery of the given service.
The service provider shall provide services to new customers within reasonable time limits; the PSRC shall set a maximum time limit for ordering services, which shall not exceed ten days.
A service provider shall restrict or suspend the provision of public electronic communications services to a subscriber, where:
- the subscriber has failed to pay for the provided services in a timely manner;
- the subscriber has connected non-certified terminal equipment to a public electronic communications network;
- the subscriber has connected terminal equipment to a public electronic communications network, which is incompatible or interferes with the operation of the public electronic communications network or with the ability of others to use public electronic communications services;
- the restriction or suspension is necessary for installation, repair, replacement, or maintenance of equipment or line facilities;
- the subscriber breaches the conditions of the tariff filed by the service provider or the service contract;
- the service provider discovers that the subscriber submitted incorrect data in requesting such service, and such data may be harmful;
- the term of services agreed between the service provider and the subscriber has expired.
The service provider may restrict or suspend the provision of a public electronic communications service provided that the provider has informed the subscriber thereon by means of a public electronic communications network, and where such notice is not possible, in writing, at least five business days before the restriction or suspension of the communications service, and shall state the duration of, and reasons for the restriction or suspension. Such notice shall not be required where the immediate restriction or suspension of the communications service is necessary under the Law.
The provision of public electronic communications services may not be restricted or suspended if the subscriber eliminates the circumstances underlying the restriction or suspension prior to the planned restriction or suspension of provision of public communications services.
In case of restriction or suspension of provision of public electronic communications services, the service provider shall be obliged to ensure that the subscriber affected by such restriction or suspension retains, if technically possible, the possibility to call the police, ambulance, fire fighting and rescue services.
Service providers shall not restrict or suspend the provision of public electronic communications services if – prior to the deadline specified under the tariff or the payment contract – the subscriber contests the charge for such service in writing and simultaneously pays the portion of the charge not contested.
In case of service interruption caused by an operator or service provider, such operator or service provider shall restore the service provided to a subscriber within two days after the elimination of the cause of interruption. Tariffs of dominant operators must oblige dominant operators to levy no charge from subscribers for the period of disconnection or suspension.
A subscriber to public electronic communications services shall be entitled to suspend the service at its discretion for a period extending from one month up to one year, unless otherwise established by the PSRC for the given public electronic communications service. The subscriber shall be obliged to give the service provider at least a ten-day prior notice of such suspension and perform all its other obligations with respect to suspension of service as set forth under the tariff or service contract.
A service provider shall suspend the provision of a service where technical conditions make it impossible to perform the above-mentioned as for the date requested, and if a subscriber wishes to change the connection location of its terminal equipment or the number issued thereto. In case of suspension of the service:
- provision of public electronic communications services and payment obligations associated thereto shall be suspended;
- terminal equipment or the end-user’s line shall be disconnected;
- the service provider may give the terminal equipment and number necessary for the service and belonging to the service provider to another subscriber.
In case of elimination of the grounds for the suspension of service, the service provider shall resume the service at the request of the subscriber.
Any end-user shall be entitled to terminate the service without prior notice, subject to the termination and penalty provisions contained in the tariff or service contract.
Every operator or service provider shall maintain and staff at least one operational office in each geographic area defined by the PSRC, where it operates a public electronic communications network or provides public electronic communications services, so as such offices provide information relating to services and tariffs, accept and grant applications for service, explain charges on customer bills and adjust charges accrued with errors. Copies of tariffs as well as maps showing geographical zones and the tariffs applicable thereto shall be accessible at any operational office of a dominant operator or dominant service provider.
Every operator and service provider shall treat and keep as confidential information regarding the type, location, purpose, destination, quantity, and technical conditions of services used by its customers.
An operator or service provider may disclose such information (an shall not be liable for any damage caused as a result of disclosure of such):
- in cases and in the manner provided for by law, in connection with surveillance, inquest, or criminal prosecution with regard to a criminal offense or threat to national security;
- in the cases explicitly noted in the Law
- upon the written consent of the customer;
- where the disclosure is necessary in defence of the operator or service provider (proceedings are pending against that operator or service provider). The customer may request that such disclosure be made on a confidential basis at an in-camera proceeding.
Providers of services subject to tariff regulation may discount the service tariffs:
- on the basis of the volume of services supplied to the end-user, if cost justified;
- where the service subject to a discount is a service with a recently established tariff, provided the discount is limited to 90 days following customer subscription to the service. Any discount shall be public, transparent, and available identically to all similarly situated customers.
Volume discounts may be calculated by cumulating the traffic of different persons, provided that those persons are engaged in a common business (other than the business of providing electronic communications services) and receive no more billing statements for subsets of the cumulative charges than separate persons using the same traffic volume.
Discounts shall be applied upon the PSRC’s approval.
The terms and conditions set forth in contracts between service providers and end users are governed by the regulations established in Law 153-98. Some of the general obligations that providers are subject to, include: no arbitrary or discriminatory actions against any user, and non-collection of fees with respect to services that have not been delivered. All forms of unlawful practices are forbidden, as are all restrictive practices within the field of telecommunications. Equality and Transparency are the basic principles upon which such contractual terms are to be agreed upon. It is mandatory for carriers and service providers to further allow users with free access to their networks’ services, according to established non-discriminatory rules and regulations, and to provide users with free customer assistance services.
Article 101 of Law 153-98 establishes that INDOTEL is directed to regulate relationships between authorized telecommunications providers and users “guaranteeing their rights and establishing their obligations”. Consequently, a series of regulations have been issued toward this end, such as: Resolution 025-05 which sets forth the Regulation for the Solution of Controversy between users and providers of Public Telecommunications Services, as recently amended by Resolution No. 124-05; and Resolution No. 026-00 which creates the Users Assistance Center (CAU for its Spanish acronym), with the primary objective to assist telecommunications services users and guide them with respect to the rights and obligations conferred to them by current legislation.
The Telecommunication Law provides for the establishment of a committee for the protection of consumer’s rights within the NTRA. The role of said committee is to advice on the protection of the telecommunication user’s rights. In addition to that, Article (2) of the Telecommunications Law ensures that the rights of the consumers are one of the main pillars for the provision of telecommunications services.
Further, a new Consumer Protection Law has been issued in Egypt under No. 181 of 2018. The new law is very protective of the customers and grants the Consumer Protection Authority very broad authorities. The Consumer Protection Law is of general application and accordingly, covers telecommunications customers.
Further, the Cyber Crimes Law includes a number of obligations on the service providers of IT and telecommunications services which aim at protecting the customers and specifically, the privacy of their data.
Electronic Communications Act provides general norms for the provision of communication services to end-users and the protection of rights of end-users. Among others, it states that a communications undertaking who provides connection to a communications network is obliged to enter into a subscription contract with a person based on an application to this effect submitted by the person. A subscription contract is entered into in writing at the request of a party. It also states limited basis, when a communications undertaking may refuse the signing of an agreement and when and how it may unilaterally to change the terms of the contract.
Electronic Communications Act also provides the procedure for entry into subscription contract and the mandatory terms and conditions of communications services that the contract should regulate. It also prescribes limited legal basis when the operator may restrict the provision of services.
Law of Obligations Act provides general regulation for consumer contracts (the notion and criterions of standard terms and invalidity if such terms) and also requirements for distant contracts and contracts entered into through computer network.
In addition to the overall provisions of the Consumer code, an operator is subject to specific requirements concerning, in particular, real time information to the consumers on its offering and tariffs, on the consequences of unlawful use of its services by customers (e.g. in respect of copyright infringement), on the ways to protect individual security and personal data, on number portability, etc.. The same code requires the insertion in consumer agreements of certain provisions such as on indemnification in case of failure to maintain the proposed quality of service, and limits the possibility to require a minimum term of service.
In addition, the CPCE poses the principle of correspondence secrecy and defines the rules concerning storage and access to consumers’ personal data. One year is in principle the maximum period to keep traffic data.
The entry into force of the ECEC will trigger the enactment of new protections such as a cap on international calls within the EU, the duty to facilitate the comparison of the oﬀers of the diﬀerent service providers and to provide free of charge at least one independent comparison tool, to enable consumers to easily change their service provider whilst keeping the same phone number, to ensure more accurate caller location in emergency situations when calling the European emergency number 112, to name a few. The concept of universal service will be revamped with, for instance, the duty to provide for available adequate broadband internet access at an affordable price.
The PRC Cybersecurity Law, the Telecoms Regulations, the PRC Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests (PRC Consumer Protection Law) and other related laws and regulations include consumer protection provisions. For example, the PRC Cybersecurity Law provides for the protection of personal (sensitive) information as it is collected, processed, stored and transferred by telecoms operators. Among other things, it affords consumers the right to request operators to correct or delete such consumers’ personal information (see further below, Question 15). The Telecoms Regulations provide general protections to consumers, e.g., that telecoms operators must supply services on time and collect opinions from users. Further, the Administrative Measures for the Licensing of Telecommunications Businesses require telecoms operators who discontinue their operations to notify their customers, to reach agreements with them regarding arrangements after discontinuance and to collect their opinions accordingly.
In general, the Israeli Consumer Protection Law, 1981 and the regulations enacted thereunder (collectively: the 'CPL') regulates the relationship between consumers  and dealers , including telecoms service providers. The CPL sets out various principles and requirements which may apply to telecoms service providers when offering services to Israeli consumers. These include, inter alia, rules regarding on-going transactions (and their cancellation); transactions entered into remotely; indication of prices for services; the matter of size letters in a standard contract; etc.
One obligation under the CPL (Section 18B) which specifically applies to telecoms service providers (e.g. licensees for the provision of fixed line telecommunication services within Israel, licensees for the provision of mobile radio telephone services, licensees for the provision of cable and satellite broadcasts) is the obligation to maintain a human response call centre, free of charge, the purpose of which is to respond to consumer claims regarding telecom services and to clearly notify consumers regarding the existence of such call centre and its details (such as telephone number and working hours). In addition, the CPL also sets out additional requirements with respect to the operation of the call centre, such as with respect to mandatory response times, maximum waiting times, etc. (the Consumer Protection Regulations (Providing Telephone Services), 2012).
In addition, there are consumer protection aspects specifically applicable to telecoms services stipulated from the Communications Law and the telecommunications different licenses. In this regard, the principal regulations attributable to consumer protection stipulated from the Communications Law and the telecommunications different licenses, are as follows:
(1) Contract for the provision of the services to a subscriber - the maximum commitment period for purchasing the services is limited to 18 months and if the subscriber decides to terminate the contract before the end of its period, it will be prohibited (section 51a of the Communications Law) to charge him for any payment thereof, or to deprive him of a benefit that he would have received had he not terminated the agreement or to demand an immediate payment of the balance for the equipment he purchased from his provider. The license determines which information operators are required to be made available to the consumers in the contract, in an explicit, comprehensive and easily accessible form. The minimum contractual information shall include, inter alia, the subscriber's right to cancel the agreement before the end of its term, the duration of the commitment period of the subscriber to the contract, the tariffs of each service, the price of the terminal equipment purchased from the licensee and the terms of payment for it, each benefit given to the subscriber and its extension, information on all restrictions on the access and use of services and applications, the minimum level of service quality offered, as well as information on the service quality indices, the conditions of the disengagement, the arrears interest rates due to non-payment on time, and the conditions for changes in the prices of the service;
(2) Linkage between services - a licensee is prohibited by law (Section 51b) of the Communications Law) to condition the subscriber's engagement to receive a service to the purchase, rental, lending or lease of terminal equipment from the licensee, including by way of granting a discount or any other benefit;
(3) Net Neutrality Regulations – it is prohibited (Section 51c(b) of the Communications Law) to cause a restriction to or block access to any service or application provided on the Internet or the use of terminal equipment on any telecommunications network;
(4) Privacy protection rules – unless a subscriber explicitly agrees, a licensee is prohibited to transfer to others information regarding personal data of the subscriber or his usage of the services, other than to those authorized by law;
(5) Licensee's duties under the license - to provide its subscribers with the agreed level of service; free of charge access to public emergency services; and, similarly to the obligation pursuant to the CPL as mentioned above, an operating service center to receive requests/complaints from subscribers, details of which are be included in each account, in order to create transparency and clarity; informing subscribers in advance and via SMS, as to the use of a surfing package, before its fully utilized and blocking access to the surfing service after the package has been fully utilized; detailed instructions regarding access to premium services that involve high payments, which are intended to create full transparency towards the subscriber; and a duty on the part of the Licensee to offer the subscriber means to block access to harmful sites for protecting minors and offering free of charge filtering sites service.
There are also specific regulations for ensuring access to services for disabled end-users, such as offering special handsets for blind people.
 A "consumer" is defined under the CPL as "a person who purchases a product or a service from a dealer within the framework of the dealer's business, mainly for a personal, home or familial use".
. A "dealer" is defined under the CPL as "any person who sells goods or offers services by way of business, including a manufacturer".
As far as consumer-related issues are concerned, reference should be made to the Italian Consumer Code as well as to specific provisions of the ECC and of AGCOM resolutions.
A cornerstone on consumer protection is contractual content and transparency of information, under Sections 70 and 71 of ECC, requiring users to be provided with clear, transparent, accessible, adequate and updated information.
The Telecom Act provides certain consumer protection regulations, which include:
- review of tariffs by the MIC;
- obligation of the carrier to explain terms and conditions;
- obligation of the carrier to deliver certain explanatory documents;
- consumer’s right to terminate the contract;
- certain prohibited conducts of the carrier (e.g., intentional failure to disclose or misrepresentation of material information about the contract, or continuous solicitation to already rejected users); and
- obligations of the carrier to make proper guidance to sales intermediaries.
Under Section 188 of the CMA, all Network Facilities Providers, Network Services Providers, Applications Service Providers and Content Applications Service Providers (save for those who are not required to have individual or class licenses or are exempted from licence requirements) are required to deal reasonably with consumers and adequately address consumer complaints, on pain of a fine not exceeding RM20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both upon conviction.
The MCMC-issued General Consumer Code of Practice for the Communications and Multimedia Industry in Malaysia (“Code”) forms the principal consumer protection regulation for telecommunication services in Malaysia and binds all service providers licensed under the CMA insofar as their licensed activities are concerned as well as members of the consumer forum established under the CMA.
The Code aims to provide model procedures on reasonably meeting consumer requirements, the handling of customer complaints and disputes, the use of alternative dispute resolution, procedures for the compensation of customers in the event the Code is breached, and the protection of consumer information, amongst others. The Code also seeks to achieve the relevant national policy objectives of the CMA, provide benchmarks for the communications and multimedia service providers for the benefit of consumers, promote a high level of consumer confidence in the delivery of services from the industry, and provide guidelines for self-regulation among industry players.
Consumers of telecommunications services would also enjoy protection vide the Consumer Protection Act 1999 (“CPA”) and the Consumer Protection (Electronic Trade Transactions) Regulations 2012 which impose disclosure requirements pertaining to the goods and services offered by a business and the identification details of that business, and prohibiting misleading practices and representations by businesses to consumers.
The Electronic Communications Networks and Services (General) Regulations (S.L. 399.28) cover the principal aspects of consumer protection within the telecoms sector in Malta, dealing with matters such as competition rules, end user interests and rights (bills, portability, directory listings etc), security of networks and services, and protection of privacy.
The TCF has established a number of codes for the protection of consumers, in areas such as:
- broadband product disclosure;
- customer complaints;
- customer transfer; and
- disconnection policies.
Recent amendments to the Telecommunications Act have enhanced the duties of the Commission to monitor and report on retail service quality in telecommunications markets.
Otherwise, general consumer protection laws apply.
Section 43a TKG determines which information operators have to make available to the consumers in the contract in an explicit, comprehensive and easily accessible form. The minimum contractual information shall include, inter alia, information on all restrictions on the access and use of services and applications, the minimum level of service quality offered, as well as information on all procedures set up by the company for the measurement and control of data traffic. Moreover, already at the conclusion of contract, the operator is obliged to inform about the necessary steps for a possible change of supplier according to section 46 TKG. The maximum contract term is limited to 24 months pursuant to section 43b TKG. Additionally section 44 TKG provides for customers friendly regulations in case of damage or cease and desist claim of the customer. The interests of disabled end-users are considered in section 45 TKG. The availability of an error correction service is required pursuant to section 45b TKG and the entitlement of the customer for an itemized bill in section 45e TKG.
The primary law for consumer protection in Indonesia is Law No. 8 of 1999 on Consumer Protection (“Law 8/1999”). Law 8/1999 applies to provision of telecoms service.
In addition to Law 8/1999, the Law 36/1999 also stipulates provisions regarding consumer protection such as right to file a legal claim to telecommunication provider if the consumer suffers loss and right to request record of use of telecommunication to telecommunication providers. Furthermore, the implementing regulations of Law 36/1999 may also provide additional consumer protection rights in telecommunication service.
MCI and the National Consumer Protection Agency have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) No. 1676/MoU/M.KOMINFO/HK.03.02/12/2017 on Consumer Protection on Communication and Informatics Sector. The purpose of signing this MoU is to improve coordination and cooperation between these two institutions for the purpose of enhancing consumer protection in telecommunication and IT sector.
PTA in exercise of its powers under the PTA Act has framed the Telecommunication Consumer Protection Regulations 2009 (the “TCPR”) which is the principal consumer protection legislation that applies specifically to telecom service providers.
The highlights of the same are as follows:
(i) Ability of a consumer to choose an operator and service(s) as per their choice, including the provision of services to such a consumer on a fair, transparent, efficient, and non-discriminatory manner;
(ii) A Consumer to be provided with uninterrupted service, subject to certain technical exceptions;
(iii) Requirement of due notice in case of suspension, withdrawal or disconnection of service(s) by operators to a consumer;
(iv) Protections to a consumer against operators engaging in unfair commercial practices;
(v) Operator to disclose to end users the price, terms and conditions of the service, and protection to a consumer against unilateral changes in tariff;
(vi) Requirement on operator(s) to establish and maintain robust complain handling and resolution mechanisms; and
(vii) Operator required to maintain confidentiality of consumer’s data/information.
GEO 111/2011 lays down the consumer protection regulations applicable for the sector of electronic communications.
Contracts concluded by consumers for the provision of access and interconnection to public electronic communications networks and services may be made on an initial period of up to 24 months. The offers and contracts designed for consumers must be transparent and offer the consumer sufficient information. For this reason, contracts concluded with consumers must contain the following minimum information:
- the identification data of the provider;
- the services provided, including in particular, if access to emergency services and caller location is provided, information with regard to the procedures for measuring traffic, the service quality levels offered, as well as the term for the initial connection;
- the prices and tariffs for each product or service covered by the contract, the way in which they are applied, as well as the means by which updated information on the tariffs for the provision of the electronic communications services and of the maintenance and repair services may be obtained;
- the duration of the contract, the conditions for renewal and termination of the contract, as well as the conditions under which service suspension operates;
- the applicable compensations and procedures in case the contracted service quality levels or other contractual clauses are not fulfilled;
- the means of initiating procedures for the settlement of disputes;
- the type of action that may be taken in reaction to security or integrity incidents or threats and vulnerabilities.
In addition, GEO 111/2011 contains certain provisions with regard to the conclusion of distance contracts. These provisions offer the end users with legal personality a favourable position in the sector of electronic communications.
Decision no. 158/2015 of the President of ANCOM regarding information obligations to end-users (“Decision 158/2015”) is aimed at ensuring transparency concerning the relationships between telecom operators and end-users.
The said decision establishes the information that electronic communications services providers have to make known to users (e.g. information to be included in invoices, information regarding commercial terms, network coverages, etc.) and the various means whereby such information must be transmitted/published (website, client care, sales department).
It also encompasses the terms and formalities for unilateral changes to contract conditions, information to be provided to the ANCOM, online archive of past commercial terms, etc.
Decision 158/2015 concerns Internet services providers and re-broadcasting providers in addition to telephony providers, who have such obligations since 2009. It thus applies to both providers of public communications networks and to providers of electronic communications services intended for the public.
Under the TBA, a “user” is defined as “a person who enters into a contract for the use of telecommunications services with a telecommunications business operator in order to receive telecommunications services.” Various user protection provisions such as the following are included in the TBA.
A basic telecommunications business operator that meets certain criteria in terms of their size must report to the MSICT their terms and conditions of use for each type of service they intend to provide, or obtain approval from the MSICT of such terms and conditions.
If a basic telecommunications business operator executes an agreement with a user for the provision/use of telecommunications services, it must send a copy of the relevant contract to the user in writing or through an information and communications network.
Certain telecommunications business operators who wish to execute a contract with a user must first verify the identity of the user through Korea’s illegal subscription prevention system, and provide the following services to the user: identity theft protection service (i.e., a service that alerts the user of the fact that a service usage contract has been executed in his/her name), subscription status look-up service (i.e., a service that allows an individual to look up whether he/she has entered into a telecommunications service contract under his/her name), and subscription restriction service (i.e., a service that prohibits others from entering into a telecommunications service contract under anyone else’s name other than his/her own).
No telecommunications business operator may engage in any acts which undermine or are at risk of undermining fair competition or users’ interests, or allow another telecommunications business operator or third party to commit such acts, including the following: calculating telecommunications service charges by unfairly itemising the expenses or revenues, providing telecommunications services in a manner different from the terms and conditions of use or in a manner which substantially undermines the users’ interests, failing to explain or notify users of important matters, such as service charges, terms and conditions of a contract, and discount of service charges, or explaining/notifying them to users in falsehood.
A telecommunications business operator must compensate a user for any losses he/she suffers, if (1) the telecommunications business operator has caused such losses in the course of providing telecommunications services (e.g., interruption of services), or (2) the losses are caused by an event or incident which served as the grounds for the user’s filing of a complaint and the handling of the complaint was delayed by the telecommunications business operator.
For your information, the Network Act also includes a number of user protection provisions (e.g., protection of juveniles and children, protection of users’ rights with respect to the use of information and communications networks, user’s right to request deletion of his/her personal information, implementation of temporary measures, measures for verifying the user’s identity). However, since these apply not just to telecom services but information and communications services in general, further details are omitted here.
Most important piece of legislation concerning end user's rights is Royal Decree 899/2009, of 22 May 2009, which approves the Charter of rights of telecommunication services users.
The following parts of regulations are also applicable specifically to telecom consumers:
- Regulation (EU) 2016/2286, of 15 December 2016, sets out detailed rules on the application of fair use policy and on the methodology for assessing the sustainability of the abolition of retail roaming surcharges and on the application that must be submitted by a roaming provider for the purposes of that assessment.
- Regulation (EU) 2015/2120, of 25 November 2015, sets out measures concerning open internet access and amends Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and users’ rights relating to electronic communications networks and services and Regulation (EU) No 531/2012 regarding roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union.
- Spanish Telecommunications Act.
- Act 25/2007, of 18 October, on electronic communications and public communication networks data storage.
- Royal Decree 424/2005, of 15 April 2005, modified by Royal Decree 776/2006, approves the regulation on electronic communications services, universal service and users' protection.
- Ministerial Order IET/2733/2015, of 11 December 2015, assigns public numbering resources to the additional pricing services provided by telephone calls and establishes their conditions of use.
- Ministerial Order IET/1090/2014, of 16 June 2014, regulates the conditions relating to the quality of the electronic communications services.
- Ministerial Order ITC/3237/2008, of 11 November 2008, sets out the use of public numbering resources for the provision of multimedia and text messages.
- Ministerial Order ITC/1030/2007, of 12 April 2007, regulates the resolution procedure of disputes between final users and electronic communications services operators and operators' customer services.
- Ministerial Order PRE/531/2007, of 5 March 2007, approves the conditions for guaranteeing the affordability of the applicable offers to the universal services.
- Ministerial Order PRE/361/2002, of 14 February 2002, modified by Ministerial Order PRE/2410/2004, is on telecommunication and pricing services users' rights.
In chapter 5 of the Electronic Communications Act, the rights of consumers purchasing electronic communication services can be found. There are also provisions explaining the duties of the operators.
Operators that offer their services to consumers must have their prices and general terms accessible for the consumers. It is sufficient to have them uploaded to the website of the company. Furthermore, the agreement between the consumer and the operator must contain clear and easily accessible details about e.g. the lowest level of quality offered, the measures taken to measure and control the traffic with the purpose of avoiding overloads of the net and how the measures can affect the quality of the services, and delivery time. An agreement between a consumer and an operator may not have a longer curing period than 24 months.
After the curing period, an operator that has provided services in combination with terminal devices must, at the request of the consumer, remove operating locks without charge or delay.
Currently, telecommunications operators in Taiwan are required to stipulate "business regulations" under which the terms and conditions of their services, including the prices, shall be specified. The stipulation of the business regulations will be subject to the review of the NCC at the time when a telecom operator applies for the license. Thereafter, once the business regulations are amended, a prior report shall be filed with the NCC.
Pursuant to the TMA, the standardized terms and conditions that a telecom operator will enter into with its consumers shall also comply with the requirements set forth under TMA and be approved by the NCC in advance.
In addition, to protect the subscribers' rights and benefits, before a telecom operator terminates its service, it shall comply with certain requirements, such as prior approval from the NCC and prior notice to the subscribers.
Regulation on Consumer Rights in the Electronic Communications Sector regulates terms and principles for the protection of rights and interests of consumers who use electronic communications services.
Various consumer-specific provisions are set out in the General Conditions of Entitlement. A 'consumer' is defined as someone who uses or requests a service for purposes which are outside his or her trade, business or profession.
Specific obligations relating to consumers include:
- the requirement to include certain minimum terms in consumer contracts;
- certain parameters regarding the term and termination rights under the consumer contract (e.g. so that the procedures for contract termination do not act as disincentives for consumers against changing their communications provider);
- a requirement to make certain information available to the consumer (e.g. any access charges, the payment terms, the existence of any termination rights and any termination procedures);
- number portability; and
various restrictions on sales and marketing activities.
The regulations promulgated by the FCC are a principal source of consumer protection for telecoms services. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission has issued consumer protection regulations in the telecoms area.
The Telecommunications Consumer Protections Code (TCP Code) is a code of conduct for the telecommunications industry and applies to all carriers and carriage service providers in Australia. The TCP Code sets out clear rules which carriers and carriage service providers must following when communicating and dealing with consumers, covering areas such as:
(e) advertising and point of sale;
(g) payment methods;
(h) complaints handling; and
(i) changing carriage service providers.
A revised TCP Code came into effect on 1 August 2019, which amongst other things, provides increased protections for telecommunications consumers. The revised TCP Code was developed with input from consumers, government and industry and includes requirements for carriers and carriage service providers to promote and sell their products in a fair and reasonable manner and clearly explain terms and conditions relating to the provision of such products.
The obligations of a carrier and carriage service provider under the TCP Code are in addition to those contained in the Australian Consumer Law, which comprises Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).