#Article (Archive)

Need to ‘fix our phone rights’

Mar 18, 2014, 10:22 AM

Consumer International (CI) spearheading World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) 2014 observed on 15 March, chose as the theme for this year, “Fix our phone rights”, and highlights the consumer issues that are undermining and frustrating the success of mobile phone services.

CI has launched what it calls a new consumer agenda for fair mobile services.

“The agenda sets out the issues that most effect consumers including the need for access to a reliable service, the security of their data and fair contracts and billing.

“CI will submit the agenda to the World Telecommunications Development Conference, held by the International Telecommunications Union, where we will be calling on phone regulators and companies to take action to stop these issues undermining the success of this new technology”, CI said in a statement to mark WCRD.

CI asks: Can you imagine a world without mobile phones? In just a few years they have become an indispensable part of our lives and can be found in almost every country around the world. But as the number of consumers using mobile services nears seven billion, what sort of service are they receiving?

Are they being treated fairly? The WCRD 2014 campaign is devoted to tackling the issues that most affect consumers of mobile services.

CI went on to explain why phone rights are important. In 2013 it was estimated that 6.8 billion people owned a mobile phone. In 2011 that figure was 6 billion and in 2010 it was 5.4 billion.

At the same time, mobile services have transformed from just being telephones that enable us to talk and text, to mini computers giving us access to information and services that are crucial to livelihoods and health.

CI said they are not just convenient, but increasingly important tools that help to empower citizens and consumers. Having access to mobile connectivity is a necessity.

CI’s consumer agenda for fair mobile services addresses the issues that affect mobile consumers across the world.

It said: Consumers want to be able to have access to affordable mobile services in order to communicate and to access information. It is only reasonable that they then expect those services to be consistent and of a high quality without drop outs in service.

Telecoms providers and regulators alike must protect the personal data that consumers give up in order to use mobile services. Whilst giving consent to use personal data can enhance the experience of using a mobile phone, it can also compromise the consumer’s right to safety. Consumers must be able to set the terms of how this data is used.

Telecoms providers should have effective complaints systems, and if consumers are not satisfied, there should be redress mechanisms to ensure a fair outcome. We must be able to penalize providers for abusive and unjust business practices.

“Whilst giving consent to use personal data can enhance the experience of using a mobile phone, it can also compromise the consumer’s right to safety”

Consumer International