UK regulator clamps down on porn sites

Two online porn providers have been blocked and fined by the UK's premium rate phone services regulator - the first action under new regulations

The UK's premium rate phone services regulator has fined and barred two online porn providers.

The cases involved Web site content promoted by two different service providers, Spanish-based Greenock and German-based Premium Call GmbH.

The promotional material repeatedly referred to sexual acts involving children, while the dialler software used to access the companies' Web sites at premium rate charges of £1.50 per minute downloaded automatically without users' knowledge and appeared to be deliberately designed to mislead users into running up huge phone bills.

Regulator ICSTIS imposed fines of £75,000 on Greenock and £50,000 on Premium Call GmbH, while access to both services was barred for a period of two years. Both companies were also instructed to offer redress to complainants and have been reported to the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.

This is the first time a UK content regulator has taken action under the recently implemented Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002.

ICSTIS chairman Sir Peter North said in a statement: "The use of premium rate charging as a way of paying for Internet and other content has considerable potential, but consumers have to be able to use the payment mechanism with confidence. All services depend on consumer trust, and all services suffer when that trust is abused. The sanctions imposed on Greenock and Premium Call GmbH reflect the serious consumer harm caused by their services and serve as a warning to others that we will not hesitate to take decisive action to protect UK consumers from such abuse."

Under the terms of the Ecommerce Directive, ICSTIS is permitted in "cases of urgency" involving matters of public policy -- particularly the protection of minors and consumers -- to take direct action against service providers based in other European Union member states.


See the Net Crime News Section for the latest on fraud, crime, child protection and related issues.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Go to the Security forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom.