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VAS services: TIM, Vodafone and WindTre fined for unsolicited activations –

AGCOM has published its injunction orders against TIM, Vodafone and WindTre for not having adopted (or having done so without time) the appropriate measures avoid activating VAS (or premium) services in the absence of the consent of the users.

The process against TIM, Vodafone and WindTre: fines of 2.2 million euros

After resolution of February 2021 with which it was decided to implement the automatic and default blocking of the main premium services (or VAS services), to which the operators have gradually adapted, the penalties for a total of more than 2 million euros to the detriment of the three operators.

With the term “special services “ means all those services, which can be activated via SMS and data connection, which offer horoscopes, games, streaming videos and music, news, weather forecasts, ringtones or more through a one-time payment or periodic subscription.

The three separate procedures were opened upon receipt of various customer reports from TIM, Vodafone and WindTre who complained of anomalous and unwanted activations of premium services in SIMs also dedicated to the remote control of private devices or in any case without connection (and in which, therefore, it would have been impossible to activate the services knowingly or by mistake).

In the case of Vodafone (here is the complete document) me WindTre (here is the complete document) The procedure was initiated because it was found that the two operators have not adopted the measures to avoid the activation of the premium services in the absence of the prior consent of the users, nor to avoid charging even in the case of clear incompatibility of the services with the voluntary user activation.

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In the case of TIM (here is the complete document), on the other hand, the operator would not have adopted such measures “With due punctuality and integrity”. In fact, TIM would have done everything possible to prevent, in the future, the recurrence of the phenomenon of unconscious activations and to strengthen its systems, but it would not have shown to have carried out in-depth analysis to find out the possible causes. of previously identified activations.

In addition, the company would work to identify and reimburse affected users, but to some extent “Not completely satisfactory”. In any case, having adopted various initiatives aimed at remedying the consequences of the infringement both before and after the start of the procedure, TIM saw its sanction reduced compared to the rest of the operators.

Too Vodafone has taken some initiatives, having definitively closed the activation of premium subscription services and a drink they can be purchased by browsing advertising banners; the same goes for WindTre. However, in the case of Vodafone and WindTre the conduct was considered significant and of long-term, Unlike TIM, whose conduct has been declared medium duration.

In all cases, according to AGCOM, if the operators had carried out all controls with the necessary diligence, they could have recognized cases where consent was not known and take all appropriate action immediately prevent involuntary activations of VAS services.

In addition, companies should have, according to AGCOM, available systems aimed at preventing cases of inadvertent activations, especially with reference to M2M SIM cards.

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The resolution on the predetermined block of VAS services.

The three precautionary measures with which AGCOM imposed fines totaling approximately € 2.2 million on TIM (€ 638,000), Vodafone (€ 754,000) and WindTre (€ 812,000) represent the last stage of a regulatory and supervisory process whose fundamental axis was the resolution. AGCOM number 10/21 / CONS about automatic blocking of premium services.

The resolution in question, dated February 5, 2021, established new measures to protect customers of these services. for a fee offered by third parties via SMS and data connection, which offer, for example, horoscopes, games, videos and streaming music, news, weather forecasts, ringtones or other services through a one-time payment or with a periodic subscription.

As decided by AGCOM after public consultation, an automatic blocking of premium subscription services is now foreseen for both new SIMs and for all those already active, for all services that include the provision of digital content provided both via SMS and MMS (from decade 4) and through data connection in mobile networks, with some exceptions.

The purpose is precisely to prevent the unsolicited or involuntary activations that led to the opening of the investigations in question against the three main operators. However, some SVA services considered of special importance and provided through mechanisms that certify full knowledge by the customer of their purchase are excluded from the block by default.

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