26 Mar French self-regulation body for carrier billing services AFMM recasts its Code of Conduct for Premium Rate Services (PRS)
The AFMM Code of Conduct for PRS is structured in two parts: the first is common to all online services that AFMM self regulates, the second is specific to premium rate services (PRS). Between the 2018 edition and the 2019 edition of the code of conduct, a large part of the provisions of the second part was moved to the first part. This does not change the responsibilities of PRS value chain actors, but they must be careful that the displaced obligations have not been removed.
The 2019 edition of the AFMM Code of Conduct multiplies the references to the recommendations of the ARPP (Professional Regulatory Authority for Advertising). This reflects the increasing weight of advertising and service promotion in PRS misdeeds. For instance, this concerns the obligation on any medium to clearly display the identity of the advertiser and the advertising nature of the message.
For the services putting registered users in contact with each other (forums, chats, e-mail), the recommendations to the service publisher become prescriptions.
For TV gaming services, PRS operators are invited to check with their service provider customers for their broadcast authorization granted by the CSA (Higher Council for Broadcasting) or their registration number with the CPPAP (Joint Committee of publications and press agencies).
The impact of ARCEP Decision No. 18-0881 on the telephone numbering plan was introduced. This includes the assignment of PRS numbers by the attributor operator only and to end-users only. In other words, the provision of numbers from one operator to another is prohibited, as well as the cascade selling of PRS numbers. The accessibility of all PRS numbers throughout the national territory is required, including overseas départements and territories.
This same ARCEP decision marks the death knell for information, call connection or signposting (ICSS) services, due to the principles of stable assignment of PRS numbers and of prior consent of the professionals identified by these services.
Also introduced by the same ARCEP decision, the end of the tariff exception enjoyed by the directory query service providers as of August 1, 2021, is reminded.
Finally, standard contractual clauses are introduced that PRS operators are enjoined to integrate into the contracts that bind them to their service provider customers.
Details of modifications
- The introduction is deleted.
- Part 1, Chapter 1, Article 1 – Responsibilities and contractual links: this text is taken from Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 1 (i.e. from the PRS-specific part to the generic part common to all online services).
- Part 1, chapter 1, article 2 – User information: the text of this article is expanded by references to the recommendations of the ARPP (Professional Regulatory Authority for Advertising).
- Part 1, Chapter 1, Article 3 – Processing of personal data: The publisher is designated as the data controllers of personal data collected from the user of the service.
- Part 1, Chapter 1, Article 4.1 – Loyalty to users: the requirements for file protection are recalled, as well as the requirement to ask only for the information strictly necessary for the delivery of the service, the prohibition to trigger the invoicing of a service that could not be provided, the need for the publisher to offer an after-sales service and a mediation service.
- Part 1, Chapter 1, Section 4.2 – Deceptive and Aggressive Business Practices: Long quotations from the Consumer Code defining these practices have been moved around from Part 2 to Part 1; these are the practices denounced and punished by the DGCCRF (Directorate General for Competition, Consumers and Fraud Repression of the French Ministry of Finance) in its PRS investigations.
- Part 1, Chapter 1, Article 4.3 – Loyalty to professionals: a reminder is added of the prohibition for the publisher to create a confusion of his service with a third party in the consumer’s mind.
- Part 1, Chapter 1, Article 5 – Protection of users, youth and minors: this article, which used to appear after those concerning the typology of services, is now placed before them.
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Section 2 – Service Content Editing Services Provided by Qualified Persons: This section has been moved from Part 2 to Part 1.
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Article 6 – Matching services between registered users: recommendations become prescriptions; the content of the participation charter for forums, chats, and e-mail is detailed (rules of behaviour, warning to users in case of inappropriate behaviour, rules regarding minors, message at the entrance of the service, …).
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Section 7 – Gaming Services (Advertising games or lotteries): This article, which deals with all sorts of games, including advertising games and TV show game, has been completely rewritten. For TV show games, the PRS operators are invited, by any means they deem necessary, to check the status of their customers wishing to organize such games and the conditions of organization of these games, for example by checking the broadcast authorization granted by the CSA (Higher Council for Broadcasting), or the registration number with the CPPAP (Joint Committee of the publications and press agencies).
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Article 8 – Charity Services: a reference to the law for a Digital Republic has been moved from Part 2 to Part 1.
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Article 9 – Services for the purchase of electronic tickets: this article is taken from Part 2 to Part 1.
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Article 11 – Services using facilitators: Such services should mention such a fact in the description of the service and let users know.
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Section 12 – Automated Content Publishing, Services delivered by an Automaton: This article has been moved from Part 2 to Part 1.
- Part 1, Chapter 2, Article 13 – Services that may offend the sensitivity of young audiences: this article has moved up from Part 2 to Part 1.
- Part 1, Chapter 3, Article 1 – Graphic chart applicable to the communication on the service. The AFMM SVA graphic chart is thus referenced in the Code of Conduct. What is surprising is that there is reference to a specific PRS graphic chart in part 1, which applies to all online services.
- Part 1, Chapter 3, Article 2 – Advertising and promotion of the service: a reference is added to the obligation, according to the recommendations of the ARPP, to make the identification of the advertiser explicit, by any means allowing to render the advertising nature of the message unequivocal for the consumer.
- Part 1, Chapter 3, Article 3 – Specificities related to direct prospecting: the prohibition for the publisher to pose as an individual is added.
- Part 1, Chapter 4 – Supervision of Deficiencies: This chapter is taken from Part 2 to Part 1; it should be noted that the fact that a breach targeting vulnerable persons has been transformed into a serious breach has disappeared. No doubt it was too difficult to notice.
- Part 2 – Specific rules for voice services with added value: the introduction states that “Each actor in the chain passes these rules to all other actors involved in the service and its communication” and justifies as such introduction, in annex 3, of standard clauses to be included in the contract between VAS operators and publishers.
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 1.1 – Service Pricing: This section introduces a reference to the capping of the tariff for directory query services effective August 1, 2021.
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 1.2 – Ceilings applicable to the billing of services: these provisions are set out in Part 2 of Chapter 2 in Chapter 1.
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 1.3 – Restrictions on accessibility: this article introduces the restrictions created by ARCEP decision No 18-0881 (assignment of numbers only by the attributor operator, and not by a delegate; numbers, apart from exceptions, should be assigned to end-user customers, all PRS numbers should be accessible from the entire national territory, overseas départements and territories included). It also recalls that the local loop operator can block access to premium rate services to one of its subscribers if this customer reaches the monthly ceiling of 300 euros.
- Part 2, chapter 1, article 1.5 – Ethical vigilance: this article is based on the reference made to the work of the AFMM by ARCEP decision no. 18-0881 to justify the publication of its monthly barometer of reports (available at members of the AFMM and the authorities only).
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 3.3 – Public services or customer services of companies subject to the LME (Law on the modernisation of the economy): this article recalls the obligations created by Article L. 121-16 of the Consumer Code, already mentioned in part1, Chapter 1, Article 4.1, to justify the prohibition to assign premium rate numbers for the primary purpose of accessing public services or after-sales customer services.
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 3.4 – Presentation of Caller ID: these provisions are moved from chapter 2 to chapter 1, both in the second part.
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 3.5 – Mutualisation of numbers between several services: these provisions are taken from Chapter 2 to Chapter 1 of Part Two.
- Part 2, Chapter 1, Article 3.6 – Dynamic Number Management: these provisions are moved from Chapter 2 to Chapter 1 of Part Two.
- Part 2, Chapter 2, Article 1.3 – ICSS (Information, Call connection or Signposting Services): These services continue to be described, are not explicitly prohibited by the 2019 Code of Conduct, but any reference to an agreement binding the publisher to the AFMM for the management of the opt-out of the professionals referenced by these services is deleted, because of the following provision of the ARCEP decision no. 12-0856: “special voice numbers with higher rates may not be assigned to a natural person or moral, even temporarily, to call him without having first and explicitly collected his consent in order to be reached by such a number. “. ARCEP decision no. 18-0881, which cancels and replaces several decisions, including decision no. 12-0856, also prohibits the temporary assignment of the same premium rate number: “A special premium-rate number can not to be assigned only exclusively and consistently over time to a single legal or physical person and for a single service. “
- Part 2, Chapter 2, Section 1.4 – Telephone Intelligence Services: This article, which has been substantially rewritten, recalls that only holders of 118XYZ numbers are able to provide a directory query service and that they have the duty to remember that it is their only purpose, excluding additional technical services (sending by SMS or email the requested number, and connecting calls).
- Part 2, Chapter 3, Article 1.2 – Processing of alerts: this article is supplemented by clauses strengthening the power of PRS operators in the event of a notice to the publisher that has not been successful: “the PRS Operator is entitled to terminate the Service concerned, in the case of a serious breach, with immediate effect by notice, in accordance with the obligations contained in the contracts between Operators that it had to pass on in its Service provider contracts and to take any additional measure that it judge necessary “; this article also recalls that local loop operators “are entitled to protect their customers, as provided for in [ARCEP] decision n ° 2007-0213 of 16 April 2007 to suspend access to the number (s) concerned and take any additional measures they deem necessary. “
- Annex 2 – Information, Call connection or Signposting Services: this appendix purges references to the opt-out system for professionals who do not wish to be referenced by such services.
3 – Standard contractual clauses: this new annex proposes five articles to be
included in the contracts between PRS operators and service providers:
- Appendix 3, Article 1 – Principles: this article recalls the responsibility of the publisher for the content of the service;
- Appendix 3, article 2 – Transitivity of the Code of Conduct: this article defines the commitment of the service provider to respect the AFMM Code of Conduct;
- Annex 3, Article 3 – Reverse Directory Information: This article recalls that the PRS operator is responsible for filling the reverse directory with the value-added number in question and introduces the service provider’s guarantee to the PRS operator against any breach of this information;
- Annex 3, Article 4 – Service provider breaches: this article establishes the right of the PRS operator, in the event of a breach of the Code of Conduct, to suspend access to the number, to charge the publisher with the costs of proving the breach and with penalties from actors upstream in the value chain.
3, article 5 – Penalties: The PRS Operator may, in case of breach of the Code
of Conduct, and without being liable:
- retain the repayments due to the service provider;
- suspend access to the Service (s) concerned;
- refuse the opening of any new PRS resource of the service provider, when the service provider does not take the necessary corrective measures;
apply penalties [specify standard penalties].