THE ICSTIS CODE OF PRACTICE - DRAFT EIGHTH EDITION

(Commentary and discussion)

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 About ICSTIS

The Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of Telephone Information Services (ICSTIS) is the regulatory body for the premium rate telecommunications industry. The Committee consists of around 10 members, all appointed in their individual capacities. ICSTIS is a non-profit making limited company which is financed by the industry. The Committee is supported by a full time Secretariat. (Introduction, section 1)

1.2 Terms of reference

The role of ICSTIS is to supervise both the content of and promotional material for premium rate services and, with the support of the network operators, to enforce this Code of Practice. ICSTIS undertakes the following tasks:

a setting and maintaining standards for the content and promotion of premium rate services, and keeping these standards under review,

b consulting the industry and other interested parties before changing these standards,

c monitoring services to ensure that both the content and promotional material comply with these standards,

d investigating and adjudicating upon complaints relating to the content and promotion of premium rate services and recommending action designed to achieve compliance where the Code has been breached, which may include the imposition of sanctions,

e providing a system for the adjudication of claims for compensation in respect of unauthorised use of live conversation services,

f publishing reports on its work at regular intervals and generally publicising its role. (Terms of reference)

1.3 The scope of this Code

1.3.1 This Code covers the provision of premium rate services by means of a public telecommunications network. (Introduction section 3)

1.3.2 This Code applies to all premium rate services which are accessed by a customer in the United Kingdom, whether those services are provided from within the United Kingdom or from abroad and whether the service provider is situated within the United Kingdom or abroad. (Introduction section 8)

1.3.3 Wherever a premium rate service promotes, or is promoted by, a non-premium rate telecommunications service, both services will be considered as one where, in the opinion of ICSTIS, it is reasonable to do so. (Introduction section 10)

1.3.4 This Code applies to all premium rate services. There is also a 'Live Conversation Services Code of Practice' which applies specifically to live conversation services.

1.4 Definitions

1.4.1 Premium rate services ('services') are services where part of the overall charge paid by a customer to the network operator for the service, being payment for the content of the call or other product or service delivered in the course of, or as a direct consequence of, the call, is passed on by the network operator, directly or indirectly, to the individual, organisation or company responsible for providing the service. (Introduction section 4)

1.4.2 Live conversation services are premium rate services involving two-way live speech.

1.4.3 Network operator means any company recognised as such by ICSTIS. ICSTIS may recognise as a network operator (a) any company which runs a public telecommunications network over which premium rate services are conveyed, or (b) any company associated with a company which runs such a network. ICSTIS shall publish a list of 'network operators' recognised by ICSTIS for the purpose of this Code of Practice. ICSTIS may amend this list from time to time as it sees fit and will publish any such amended list. (Introduction section 5)

1.4.4 Service providers are individuals, organisations or companies that provide premium rate services. (Introduction section 6)

1.4.5 Information providers are individuals, organisations or companies, on whose behalf service providers may provide services. Regardless of the origin of the content of a service, responsibility for compliance with this Code of Practice rests with the service provider. (Introduction section 7)

1.4.6 Promotion means anything where the intent or effect is, either directly or indirectly, to encourage the use of premium rate services and the term promotional material should be construed accordingly. (Introduction section 9)

Introduction, section 11: All definitions which appear in this Code will apply throughout the whole Code.


2. ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

2.1 Responsibility

Service providers are responsible for ensuring that the content and promotion of all their premium rate services (whether produced by themselves or by their information providers) comply with all relevant provisions of this Code. (1.1.1)

2.2 Setting up a service

2.2.1 Before providing services, a service provider must notify ICSTIS of the following:

a the telephone number ranges (including dialling codes) designated to it by the network operator,

b the name, address and telephone number (including facsimile, where applicable) of the person representing the service provider who is nominated to receive all communications in connection with the application of the Code,

c where different from b above, the name and contact details of the person responsible for handling enquiries.

Any changes or additions to the above must be notified to ICSTIS immediately. (1.1.2)

2.2.2 Where certain codes or number ranges have been designated by either Oftel or a network operator for the provision of particular service categories, services within these categories must use those codes or number ranges. (1.1.3)

2.2.3 Before promoting or providing services, the service provider must have readily available all documentary and other evidence necessary to substantiate any factual claims made. This material, together with a statement outlining its relevance, must be provided without delay if requested by ICSTIS. (1.4.2)

2.2.4 Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that all their services are of an adequate technical quality. (2.1.6)

2.2.5 There is a set of guideline documents ('ICSTIS Guidelines') giving detailed advice on certain areas of the Code. Further guidance or any matters relating to the Code,, is available from the Secretariat on request..

2.3 Prior permission

2.3.1 ICSTIS may require that particular categories of service should not be provided unless ICSTIS has given its prior written approval of permission for any service within that category. ICSTIS will give reasonable notice of such a requirement and the category of service to which it applies and will publish a full list of such service categories from time to time. Prior permission may be granted subject to the imposition of additional requirements. Such permission may be withdrawn upon reasonable grounds and with notice in writing. (1.1.4)

2.3.2 Where a service provider can demonstrate for a particular service that any requirement of the Code can be adequately satisfied by alternative means, ICSTIS may give prior written permission for the service to be provided. Such permission may be withdrawn upon reasonable grounds and with notice in writing. (1.1.5)

2.4 Data protection

2.4.1 When registering with the Data Protection Registrar, all service providers must in their application:

a disclose ICSTIS as a potential data user,

b state that the data may be used for regulatory purposes. (1.5.1)

2.4.2 No undertaking given by service providers to callers, suppliers, information providers or others shall preclude any information being given to ICSTIS in confidence. (1.5.2)

2.4.3 Services which involve the collection of personal information, such as names, addresses and telephone numbers (which includes the collection of Calling Line Identification (CLI) or caller display information), must make clear to callers the purpose for which the information is required. The service must also identify the data user (if different from the service provider or information provider) and any different use to which the personal information might be put, and give the caller an opportunity to prevent such usage. (1.5.3)

2.5 Number re-use

A service must not be replaced on the same number by another service which might give offence to or might be inappropriate for callers reasonably expecting the original service. (1.3.6, 1.4.6)


3. PROMOTION AND CONTENT PROVISIONS

GENERAL PROVISIONS

3.1 Legality

Services and promotional material must not contain anything which is in breach of the law, nor omit anything which the law requires. Furthermore, services and promotional material must not facilitate or encourage anything which is in any way unlawful. (1.2.1)

3.2 Promotions in non-print media

Promotions transmitted by radio, television, teletext, telephone, facsimile, Internet or any other form of communication must observe these provisions in the manner most reasonable and appropriate to the technology employed. (3.1.3)

3.3 Other regulators and Codes of Practice

3.3.1 Service providers must also comply with the provisions of the British Codes of Advertising and Sales Promotion which are supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority. (3.1.4)

3.3.2 It should be noted that, in the case of promotions on radio or television, whether in programmes or advertisements, there are Codes of Practice published by the Independent Television Commission and the Radio Authority which also apply. (footnote)

3.3.3 Services which themselves promote products or services must also comply with all other provisions of this Code. (2.1.4)

3.4 Editorial promotions

In the case of promotions that appear in editorial material, service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure compliance with the provisions of this Code. (3.1.1)

3.5 Decency

3.5.1 Services and promotional material must not:

a contain material indicating violence, sadism or cruelty, or be of a repulsive or horrible nature, (1.3.1)

b involve the use of foul language. (1.3.4)

3.5.2 Services and promotional material must not be of a kind that are likely to:

a result in any unreasonable invasion of privacy,

b induce an unacceptable sense of fear or anxiety,

c encourage or incite any person to engage in dangerous practices or to use harmful substances,

d induce or promote racial disharmony, (1.3.2)

e cause grave or widespread offence,

f debase, degrade or demean. (1.3.3)

3.5.3 Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that services and promotional material are not used to promote or facilitate prostitution. (1.3.5)

3.6 Honesty

3.6.1 Services and promotional material must not:

a be of a kind that are likely to mislead by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise, (1.4.1)

b seek to take improper unfair advantage of any characteristic or circumstance which may make consumers vulnerable. (1.4.5)

3.6.2 No premium rate service may be promoted as being free and no product or service may be promoted as being free, or described in a way that implies it is free (for example, a gift), if the most obvious or practical way of obtaining it is by using a premium rate service. The word 'free' may be used in cases where the service provider revenue does not exceed the delivery costs of the product and the promotional material states the maximum cost of the call. (1.4.3,1.4.4)

PROVISIONS RELATING TO PROMOTION

3.7 Pricing information

3.7.1 The service provider must ensure that the charge for calls to each service is clearly stated in all promotions. Prices must be noted in the form of a numerical price per minute, inclusive of VAT, or the total maximum cost to the consumer of the complete message or service. (3.3.1)

3.7.2 Services which always cost less than 50 pence and are terminated by forced release are exempt from the above requirements concerning pricing information. (3.3.5)

3.7.3 In the case of promotions transmitted in television programme time all television promotions, the pricing information must be spoken as well as being visually displayed if the maximum call cost can exceed £2.00. (3.3.2)

3.7.4 Textual pricing information must be legible, prominent, horizontal and presented in a way that does not require close examination. (3.3.3)

3.7.5 In cases where it is unlikely that a consumer will have seen or heard any promotion containing pricing information, the service provider must place a short, distinct pricing message at the beginning of the service. (3.3.4)

3.8 Honesty

3.8.1 In all promotional material, the code or prefix must be separate from the rest of the telephone number so be presented in such a way that it can be readily identified as a premium rate or international prefix. In the case of international services, the country of origin must also be stated. (3.2.1)

3.8.2 If the service operates on an international number and terminates outside the UK, it must be made clear in the promotional material that it is an international call.

3.8.3 For any promotion the identity (the company name) and address contact details of either the service provider or information provider, where not otherwise obvious, must be clearly stated so that customers can contact them directly. This should include at least the company name, street name and number or a PO Box number (PO Box numbers cannot be used in the case of employment services - see paragraph 4.6.3) and full postcode of the main place of business.

The contact details must take the form of one of the following:

a a full postal address including postcode, or

b a helpline telephone number (not to be charged above UK national rate), or

c an e-mail address (only for promotions appearing on the Internet and when used in conjunction with a full postal address). (3.2.2)

3.8.4 In the case of services which are promoted in publications or other media which have a long shelf life, a statement must be included in the promotion to the effect that the information given is correct as at the date of publication and that date must also be stated. If the call charges change during the life of the promotion, such services must be prefaced with a short message informing callers of the new rate(s). (3.2.3)

3.9 Inappropriate promotion

Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that promotional material does not reach those for whom the service concerned may be inappropriate. (3.1.2)

PROVISIONS RELATING TO CONTENT

3.10 Services must not:

a contain incorrect information (and it should be clear to consumers when

time-sensitive information was last updated), (2.1.1)

b be unreasonably prolonged or delayed, (2.1.2)

c no service shall enable a caller to receive a prize, reward or benefit, the value of which relates only or predominantly to the duration of the call. be of a nature which unduly encourages the unauthorised use of telephones by providing the caller with a cash or equivalent reward for having taken part in the service. (2.1.3)

3.11 Where a service promotes other products or services, and such promotion exceeds 15 seconds in duration, the advertised service must be provided before the promotion. (2.1.5)


4. PROVISIONS RELATING TO PARTICULAR CATEGORIES OF SERVICE

4.1 Children's services

4.1.1 In this code:

a A child is someone under 18 years of age. (4.1.1a)

b Children's services are those which, either wholly or in part, are aimed at or would reasonably be anticipated to be particularly attractive to persons under 18 years of age. (4.1.1d)

c A children's publication is either one where a significant proportion of the readership is under 18 years of age, or a publication which appears to be wholly or in part intended for persons under the age of 18. (4.1.1b)

d Any promotional material contained within a children's publication is assumed to be aimed at children. (4.1.1c)

4.1.2 Promotional material for children's services must clearly state:

a the maximum possible cost of the service,

b that it should only be used with the agreement of the person responsible for paying the telephone bill. (4.1.3)

4.1.3 Children's services, and any associated promotional material, must not:

a contain anything which is likely to result in harm to children or which exploits their credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty, (4.1.4)

b involve an invasion of privacy of any child, (4.1.5)

c make direct appeals to children to buy, unless the product or service is one likely to be of interest to them and one which they could reasonably be expected to afford for themselves, (4.1.6)

d encourage excessive use of premium rate services.(4.1.7)

4.1.4 Children's services must:

a cost no more than £3.00, (4.1.2)

b be terminated by forced release, (4.1.2)

c if the service costs over 50 pence, be prefaced by a short statement clearly stressing that the service should only be used with the agreement of the person responsible for paying the telephone bill, (4.1.2)

d include nothing that a reasonable parent would not wish their child to hear or learn about in this way, (4.1.8)

e not encourage children to ring other premium rate services or the same service again. (4.1.7)


4.2 Competitions and other games with prizes

4.2.1 Services in this sector ('competition services') fall into five basic categories:

Most of these are subject to legal restrictions. Before setting up such services, service providers are strongly advised to seek advice on legal and excise duty implications. (4.2.1)

4.2.2 Promotional material for competition services which do not force release within two minutes may cost more than 50 pence must clearly display:

a the cost per minute and likely playing time, or full cost of the call,

b details of how the competition operates and an indication of any tie-breakers. (4.2.6e)

4.2.3 Competition services that can last for more than ten minutes, which may cost more than £5.00 must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £2.50, and after each £2.50 of call spend thereafter, require an active confirmation that the caller wishes to continue with the call. The method used to obtain this confirmation must have been granted permission by ICSTIS. Failure to provide the correct responses must, after the provision of any necessary prize claim information, cause the service to be terminated immediately by forced release. (4.2.2)

4.2.4 Competition services which are aimed at or would reasonably be anticipated to be particularly attractive to persons under 18 years of age, must not:

a offer cash, vouchers or tokens or anything which can used as cash, as a prize,

b offer any prize with a retail market value of over £500.00,

c feature long or complex rules. (4.2.3)

4.2.5 Promotional material must clearly state any information which is likely to affect a decision to participate, in particular:

a any closing date,

b any significant terms and conditions, including any restriction on the number of entries or prizes which may be won,

c an adequate description of prizes, including the number of major prizes,

d any significant age, geographical or other eligibility restrictions. (4.2.6a-d)

4.2.6 The following additional information must also be made readily available to potential competitors. If not contained in the original promotional material, it must be available free to anyone sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope:

a how and when prizewinners will be informed,

b how prizewinner information may be obtained,

c any criteria for judging entries,

d any alternative prize that is available,

e the details of any intended post-event publicity,

f any supplementary rules which may apply. (4.2.7)

4.2.7 Competition services must have a closing date, except where there are instant prizewinners. An insufficient number of entries or entries of inadequate quality are not acceptable reasons for changing the closing date of a competition or withholding prizes. (4.2.5)

4.2.8 Competition services and promotional material must not:

a use words such as 'win' or 'prize' to describe items offered to all participants, (4.2.9)

b exaggerate the chance of winning a prize, (4.2.8)

c suggest that winning a prize is a certainty, (4.2.8)

d suggest that consumers must dial a premium rate number in order to participate if an alternative postal entry route is available. (4.2.10)

4.2.9 Service providers must ensure that:

a prizes are awarded within 28 days, unless a longer period is clearly stated in the promotional material, (4.2.11)

b postal entries have the same chances of winning as telephone entries, (4.2.10)

c if there is any subjective assessment in the selection of the winning entries (for example, tie-breakers) in a competition open to the general public, then judging is by a person independent of the service provider and any intermediaries involved, or by a judging panel including at least one independent member. (4.2.12)


4.3 Virtual chat services

4.3.1 Virtual chat services are services in which callers send and receive separate recorded messages. There is no element of simultaneous conversation during which callers can be in direct contact with each other or can instantly hear or respond to each other; such services are classed as live conversation services and are subject to the provisions of the Live Conversation Services Code of Practice.

4.3.2 Virtual chat services which are promoted as contact and dating services or which allow contact details to be exchanged between participants are also subject to the dating provisions (section 4.4) where they are applicable.

4.3.3 At the time of entering into employment, service provider employees who are either monitoring or taking part in the service must be given a copy of this Code. After adequate training (which should be for a minimum of four hours), the operator or monitor must sign a document to confirm that s/he has read this Code and has had its contents and significance explained and that s/he will comply with its provisions. On-the-job training should also be given. A copy of this signed document must be retained by the service provider and should be produced on request from ICSTIS. No operator shall be under the age of 18 and ICSTIS will retain the right to impose a condition that operators should be of a higher age.

4.3.4 Service providers must:

a have in place, and implement in appropriate circumstances, a reasonable complaints handling procedure,

b pay reasonable and valid claims for compensation,

c use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that nobody under the age of 18 uses virtual chat services.

4.3.5 Promotions for virtual chat services which are promoted as contact and dating services must make it clear that some participants on the service may be employees of the service provider if that is the case.

4.3.6 All virtual chat services must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £10.00, and after each £10.00 of call spend thereafter, do the following:

a inform the caller of the price per minute of the call and the number of minutes which have elapsed or the total cost of the call so far,

b require callers to provide a positive response to confirm that they wish to continue the call. If no such confirmation is given, the service must be terminated.


4.4 Contact and dating services

4.4.1 In the context of this section, the 'advertiser' is the person featured in the initial message. (4.7.1)

4.4.2 Service providers must:

a ensure that any publicly available elements of services do not contain telephone numbers, addresses or any other means of direct contact, (4.7.2)

b use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that nobody under the age of 18 uses these services, (4.7.3)

c retain advertisers' records (clearly linked to the reference number used in the message), in confidence, for a minimum period of six months and make them available to ICSTIS on request, (4.7.5)

d bar access to a voice-mail box where the advertiser has not collected responses for more than four weeks. If the service provider is unable to tell when responses are collected, no advertisement should may be published for more than four weeks. (4.7.10)

e when requested by the advertiser, ensure that the relevant details are removed from the service at the earliest opportunity and in all cases within 24 hours. (4.7.11)

4.4.3 All promotional material must make clear:

a where, when and for how long an individual's advertisement will appear,

b the location, sex and age range of advertisers on the service, (4.7.7)

c when individually advertised voice-mail boxes may not contain a recorded message from the advertiser, (4.7.8)

d if advertisers are obliged to leave a voice message in addition to the text message for publication.

4.4.4 Contact and dating services must:

a obtain and record from all advertisers their name, date of birth and telephone number, (4.7.4)

b warn advertisers of the risks involved when telephone numbers are to be given out to respondents, (4.7.9)

c give users clear advice on sensible precautions to take when meeting people through dating services, (4.7.12)

d inform callers of the cost of the call after the first 15 minutes and at intervals of five minutes thereafter. (4.7.13)

4.4.5 All contact and dating services must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £10.00, and after each £10.00 of call spend thereafter, do the following:

a inform the caller of the price per minute of the call and the number of minutes which have elapsed or the total cost of the call so far,

b require callers to provide a positive response to confirm that they wish to continue the call. If no such confirmation is given, the service must be terminated.

4.4.6 No individual's advertisement should appear unless the service provider has agreed with the advertiser where, when and for how long the advertisement will appear. (4.7.6)


4.5 Fundraising and charitable promotions

4.5.1 Promotional material for charitable promotions is subject to the 1992 Charities Act.

4.5.2 Promotional material for charitable promotions and for fundraising must make clear:

a the identity name of the beneficiary,

b the extent and nature of the benefit to be gained either the total sum per call or the amount per minute to be paid to the beneficiary,

c any restrictions or conditions attached to the limitations on the extent of the contribution to be made to the beneficiary.

4.5.3 There must be no limit to callers' contributions - should these contributions exceed projected targets levels, additional funds the additional amounts should be forwarded given to the beneficiary according to the same criteria used for contributions below that level. (4.5.1)

4.5.4 Substantiation of the benefit accruing to the beneficiary as a result of the promotion must be available on request. (4.5.2) 4.6 Employment and business opportunities


4.6 Employment and Business Opportunities

4.6.1 Service providers wishing to provide employment services should seek advice from the Department of Employment. Section 6(1) of the Employment Agencies Act 1973 prohibits employment agencies and employment businesses from charging fees to persons for finding or seeking to find them work whether employed or self-employed, subject to certain exceptions. The service provider element of the premium rate charge amounts to a 'fee' for this purpose. Any service which is found to be in breach of the law will breach the Code (see paragraph 3.1). (4.6.1)

4.6.2 Services and promotional material must:

a correspond to genuine vacancies and/or opportunities, the existence of which must be fully substantiated on request, (4.6.2)

b not be likely to mislead a caller as to the conditions, necessary qualifications or availability or extent of any potential employment or business opportunity, whether by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise, (4.6.6)

c make no claims relating to earnings unless the evidence that such earnings are currently and regularly attained by existing employees or equivalent is readily available. (4.6.7)

4.6.3 All promotional material must clearly state:

a the maximum total cost of the call,

b any additional expenditure, including any investments, that may be required over and above the cost of the telephone call,

c the type of work to be done and its geographical location,

d the number of workers required,

e the basis and level of remuneration and, where known, the level of earnings that may realistically be expected,

f the identity and full address of the service provider or information provider - a PO Box or registered office is not sufficient, nor is a helpline number. (4.6.3)

4.6.4 All services must:

a provide all the information required by 4.6.3 above within the first two minutes of the service itself, together with the principal terms of employment and the address and/or telephone number of the employer or business opportunity provider, (4.6.4)

b inform the caller of the cost of the call at intervals of no more than five minutes throughout the service. as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £2.50, and after each £2.50 of call spend thereafter. (4.6.5)


4.7 Betting tipster services

4.7.1 Services and promotional material must not:

a make claims about future selections being certain winners or about the certainty of profits, (4.10.1)

b quote odds for future selections unless the availability of these odds can be substantiated. (4.10.3)

4.7.2 Opinions on particular selections given in services or promotional material must make clear that they are opinions and not statements of fact. The use of quotation marks on their own is not sufficient. (4.10.2)

4.7.3 Claims about the following must be able to be substantiated:

a previous selections, including general statements about tipsters' track records,

b past profits. Aggregate profit figures may only be calculated using starting prices and the total stake on which the profit is based must be stated. (4.10.5)

4.7.4 Claims about previous selections, including general statements about tipsters' track records, should only be made if the selections have been 'proofed' to a third party approved by ICSTIS, who will make such proofs available for verification by ICSTIS, or to ICSTIS for a fee. (4.10.4)


4.8 Bulletin boards and other computer-based services

4.8.1 Service providers must use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that the information contained on bulletin boards and similar computer-based services complies with this Code. (4.11.1)


4.9 Sales promotion services

4.9.1 The promotional material for a sales promotion must:

a make clear any factors likely to affect a consumer's decision to participate in a promotion before the consumer is committed to any purchase upon which participation depends. These factors include:

(4.4.4)

b make clear if participants may become involved in further publicity or advertising, whether connected with the sales promotion or not, (4.4.3)

c obtain participants' written permission if their names and/or addresses are to be used in further publicity. (4.4.3)

4.9.2 The promotional material for a sales promotion must not mislead consumers, whether by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration, omission or otherwise, as to the nature of the promotion. Particular care must be taken when the consumer has no opportunity to examine goods before delivery. (4.4.2)

4.9.3 Contingency plans must be made to supply consumers with an alternative (either in cash or in kind) of equal or greater perceived value in case of unexpectedly high demand.(4.4.5)


4.10 Advice services

4.10.1 All advice services must:

a be conveyed in a responsible manner, (4.3.1)

b if giving medical, financial, legal or other similar professional advice, indicate clearly in the promotional material, or at the beginning of the service, the identity, the current status and any relevant professional qualifications and experience of the person(s) or organisation supplying the information or advice. If the advice is given by a person with no relevant qualifications, the service should explain the source of information. (4.3.2)

c be prefaced with a statement that the caller should not act upon advice which needs individual interpretation without first consulting a suitably qualified practitioner. (4.3.3)

4.10.2 To avoid being classified as 'services of a sexual nature', advice services and promotional material for them must not contain anything of a sexually suggestive or titillating nature. (4.3.4)


4.11 Services of a sexual nature

4.11.1 Services of a sexual nature are services of a sexually suggestive or titillating nature or services where the associated promotional material is of a sexually suggestive or titillating nature. (4.8.1)

4.11.2 Services of a sexual nature, or promotions for them, must not contain references which suggest or imply the involvement of children. (4.8.2)

4.11.3 Services of a sexual nature must not contain a visual component (for example, facsimile, video telephony, or pictorially-based electronic mail). (4.8.3)

4.11.4 Promotions for services of a sexual nature must not appear in generally available publications (other than 'top shelf publications') or in any publication which is unsolicited. In the case of promotions in other media, paragraph 3.1.3 applies equivalent measures reasonable and appropriate to the media employed should be applied. (4.8.4)

4.11.5 All services of a sexual nature must, as soon as is reasonably possible after the caller has spent £10.00, and after each £10.00 of call spend thereafter, do the following:

a inform the caller of the price per minute of the call and the number of minutes which have elapsed or the total cost of the call so far,

b require callers to provide a positive response to confirm that they wish to continue the call. If no such confirmation is given, the service must be terminated.


4.12 Interactive entertainment services

All interactive entertainment services which can last more than ten minutes must inform the caller of the cost of the call at intervals of no more than five minutes throughout the service. (4.9.1)


5. PROCEDURES AND SANCTIONS

5.1 The Committee may delegate its powers to sub-committees which will be formed of no less than three Committee members. (Introduction, section 2)

5.2 Complaint initiation

5.2.1 ICSTIS will investigate all complaints which are received within one month of the time that the complainant first heard or saw the matter complained about. If there is any special reason why a complaint was not made within that time limit then ICSTIS should be informed of that reason and will consider whether the complaint should be investigated.

ICSTIS will investigate all complaints which are received within a reasonable period from the time when the call was made. (5.1.1)

5.2.2 ICSTIS, through its Secretariat, monitors premium rate services. The Secretariat can itself initiate a complaint where there appears to be a breach of the Code. (5.1.2)

5.3 Informal procedure

If an apparent breach of the Code is of a minor nature, causing little consumer harm, the 'informal procedure' may be used. Factors including the seriousness of the breach and the service provider's breach history may be taken into account when deciding whether the informal procedure should be applied. In such cases:

a The service provider will be contacted and informed of the apparent breach.

b If the service provider agrees that a breach of the Code has taken place, the service provider will be required to remedy the breach. No other sanction will be imposed or any administrative charge levied.

c The service provider will be sent a letter confirming what has been agreed.

d If the service provider disputes the breach, the standard procedure may be invoked.

5.4 Standard procedure

When the Secretariat receives or initiates a complaint, the 'standard procedure' will usually be invoked:

a The service provider will be given all necessary information about the complaint, including details of the service or promotional material which gives rise to the apparent breach of the Code, and will be referred to the relevant provisions in the Code.

b The service provider will be given a reasonable time in which to respond and to provide any information requested. In the absence of any special circumstances, this response will be required within five full working days. In special circumstances, a shorter time limit may be set - but this will be no less than 24 hours.

c If the service provider fails to respond within the required period, ICSTIS will proceed on the assumption that the service provider does not wish to respond.

d The Secretariat will prepare a report together with relevant supporting evidence which will be placed before ICSTIS for adjudication. (5.2.1)

5.5 Emergency procedure

Where it appears to the Secretariat that a breach of the Code has taken place which is serious and requires urgent remedy, the 'emergency procedure' will be invoked:

a The Secretariat will undertake an immediate investigation of the complaint.

b On completion, the Secretariat will notify its findings to three members of the Committee.

c If all three members agree that there appears to be a serious breach of the Code requiring urgent remedy, the Secretariat will telephone the service provider and advise him that his service appears to be in breach of the Code, that the emergency procedure has been invoked and that unless the service is removed immediately, the network operator will be advised of the breach and requested to bar access to the relevant number(s) forthwith and to withhold from the service provider any outstanding payments.

d If the Secretariat is unable to contact the service provider, ICSTIS will advise the network operator of the apparent breach of the Code and recommend that access to the relevant number(s) should be barred forthwith.

e Once the service has been removed, the service provider will be provided with all necessary information relating to the complaint and will be referred to the relevant provisions of the Code. The service provider will then be required to respond in writing within three working days.

f All relevant information will, in the absence of special circumstances, be laid before the Committee within 14 days from the date of the initial reference.

g The time limits set out in this section may be extended at the Committee's discretion if the Committee considers that their strict application might cause injustice. ( 5.3.1)

5.6 Adjudication

On the basis of the evidence presented, ICSTIS will decide whether there has been a breach of the Code. Each case will be considered and decided on its own merits. (5.6.1)

5.7 Sanctions

5.7.1 Once ICSTIS has adjudicated on the complaint in question, the Secretariat will put before the Committee the service provider's details - these will include a list of relevant breaches upheld and sanctions imposed and the numbers of lines and numbers allocated to the company. (5.8.1)

5.7.2 ICSTIS has a range of sanctions which it will apply according to the degree of seriousness with which it regards the breach. Having taken all relevant circumstances into account, ICSTIS may:

a require the service provider to remedy the breach, and/or

b require an assurance from the service provider, or any associated individual,

relating to future behaviour in terms determined by ICSTIS, and/or

c require the service provider to submit certain or all categories of services and/or promotional material to ICSTIS for prior approval for a defined period, and/or

d recommend to the relevant network operator that access to some or all of the numbers allocated to the service provider should be barred for a defined period, and/or

e recommend to the relevant network operator that the service provider should be prohibited from providing a particular type or category of service for a defined period, and/or

f impose an appropriate fine on the service provider to be collected by ICSTIS. Non-payment of a fine will be considered to be a breach of the Code and may result in further sanctions being imposed, in addition to a recommendation to the relevant network operator to withhold and pass over to ICSTIS the sum(s) due from the service provider's outstanding payments, and/or

g recommend to the relevant network operator that the service provider should no longer be permitted to provide any premium rate services for a defined period, (5.8.2) and/or

h require, in the case of virtual chat services (see section 4.3), that service providers pay appropriate compensation to consumers.

5.5 ORAL HEARINGS

5.5.1 ICSTIS may, at its discretion, hear oral representations.

5.8 Oral Hearings

5.8.1 At any stage of its process, ICSTIS may require, or a service provider may request, an oral hearing. Such a request must be made in writing and set out the reasons why the service provider considers that an oral hearing is necessary.

5.8.2 The granting or refusal of a request for an oral hearing and the procedure adopted for the purposes of any such hearing are matters entirely within the discretion of ICSTIS.

5.9 Reviews

5.9.1 ICSTIS may, at its discretion, review adjudications and/or sanctions in the light of new information. (5.7.1)

5.9.2 A service provider may request a review by setting out in writing its case for such a review.

Review procedure

5.9.3 Having received a written request from the service provider as to why an adjudication and/or sanction should be reviewed, ICSTIS will decide whether the review is merited and may proceed with the review forthwith or set a later date for such a review.

5.9.4 One or more nominated Committee members may decide to suspend the sanction imposed, pending a review by the Committee. (5.7.2)

5.10 Administrative charge

All service providers found to be in breach of the Code may be invoiced for the administrative and legal costs of the work undertaken by ICSTIS. Non-payment will also be considered to be a breach of the Code and may result in further sanctions being imposed, in addition to a recommendation to the relevant network operator to withhold and pass over to ICSTIS the sum(s) due from the service provider's outstanding payments. (5.9.1)


HOW TO COMPLAIN OR CONTACT ICSTIS

ICSTIS

Freepost WC5468

London

WC1V 7BR

a details of the name and telephone number of the service,

b the date and time at which the complainant dialled the service,

c wherever possible, a copy of any relevant promotional material.


Annex A - Examples of ICSTIS Guidelines

ICSTIS Guideline No. 1

Children's Services (version 1 - 20 August 1997)

Introduction

ICSTIS Guidelines are intended to help the premium rate services industry understand how the Committee might interpret the ICSTIS Codes of Practice in different situations. They do not form part of the ICSTIS Codes of Practice and do not bind the Committee in any way whatsoever.

A current list of all the latest versions of ICSTIS Guidelines that have been issued is available in the current ICSTIS Monthly Report and on the ICSTIS website. Copies of Guidelines are available, free of charge, from the Secretariat.

Service providers seeking more information on the ICSTIS Codes and Guidelines are strongly advised to contact the Secretariat before starting to operate a particular service.

Children's services

The following is a list of the factors which will be taken into account when the Committee is assessing whether a service is a children's service for the purposes of paragraph 4.1.1b of the ICSTIS Code (eighth edition):

How to contact ICSTIS

ICSTIS Tel: 0171 240 5511

3rd Floor Fax: 0171 379 4611

177 High Holborn Complaints line: 0800 500 212

London e-mail: secretariat@icstis.org.uk

WC1V 7AA Web site: http://www.icstis.org.uk


ICSTIS Guideline No. 2

Prior Permission (version 1 - 20 August 1997)

Introduction

ICSTIS Guidelines are intended to help the premium rate services industry understand how the Committee might interpret the ICSTIS Codes of Practice in different situations. They do not form part of the ICSTIS Codes of Practice and do not bind the Committee in any way whatsoever.

A current list of all the latest versions of ICSTIS Guidelines that have been issued is available in the current ICSTIS Monthly Report and on the ICSTIS website. Copies of Guidelines are available, free of charge, from the Secretariat.

Service providers seeking more information on the ICSTIS Codes and Guidelines are strongly advised to contact the Secretariat before starting to operate a particular service.

Services requiring prior permission

The majority of premium rate services do not require permission from ICSTIS before they can operate. However, under paragraph 2.3.1 of the Code (eighth edition), some types of service need to be assessed by the Committee and given permission beforehand. Such permission is given on a per service basis. Application forms to apply for permission in respect of these services are attached. Completed forms should be returned to the Secretariat. The following types of service require prior permission from ICSTIS before they can operate:

How to contact ICSTIS

ICSTIS Tel: 0171 240 5511

3rd Floor Fax: 0171 379 4611

177 High Holborn Complaints line: 0800 500 212

London e-mail: secretariat@icstis.org.uk

WC1V 7AA Web site: http://www.icstis.org.uk