EU powerless to stop 'free' ring-tone download scam

Having conducted a scan of over 550 ring-tone download web sites, the EU has declared that 80 per cent were in breach of regulations. Unfortunately, much to the EU's annoyance, it cannot take any action against these miscreants (if only there was a Europe-wide regulator, dreams the EU) and has passed the information back to national telecoms regulators.

"Far too many people are falling victim to costly surprises from mysterious charges, fees and ring-tone subscriptions they learn about for the first time when they see their mobile phone bill," said EU Consumer Commissioner, Meglena Kuneva. "There will be Europe-wide enforcement action to track down each of these traders. But we need to get a clear message out particularly to teenagers and children: be on your guard. It's all about the small print."

Brussels said that ring-tone companies would be contacted by national authorities and asked to clarify or correct the problems. They face fines or closure of the websites if they fail to do so.

Ring-tones alone were estimated to make up 29 per cent of the overall mobile content market in Europe in 2007 (about 10 per cent higher than 2006). The value of European ring-tone sales in 2007 was estimated at €691 million.

For more on this story:
- go to AFP, The Register and Cellular News

Related story:
InfoSpace settles EMI ringtone suit. Ringtone story