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Operators have to inform customers on data usage: TRAI

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

India’s telecom regulator TRAI on Friday made it mandatory for telecom operators to issue notices in form of USSD or SMS about data usage to its customers at regular intervals.

Mobile network operators now need to send information about the usage to data users at every 10 MB of data consumption except customers opting for special schemes like add-on packs, combo offers and others. The consumers are to be provided with an option to opt out if they do not desire to receive such information.

For customers using special data packs, the operator has to compulsorily inform the customer whenever the limit of data usage reaches 50 per cent, 90 per cent and full exhaustion of the allotted data limit.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also ordered the operators to intimate customers when the data balance available in the account reaches 500 MB, 100 MB and 10MB.

“Further the consumer shall be informed about the details of tariff applicable after exhausting the data limit, when the data limit reaches 90 percent or the data balance available in the account reaches 10MB,” TRAI said in a note.

Operators also need to send an alert to international roaming customer cautioning the person to deactivate data service if one does not intend to use data services.

TRAI ordered the service providers to implement the same by November 1 this year.

The regulator further said data services should be activated only with the explicit consent of the subscriber through a toll free short code – 1925. The same short code can be used to deactivate the data services as well.

“Data services through Special Tariff Voucher or Combo Voucher or add-on pack will be deemed to have been activated with consent till the expiry of the validity period of the voucher/pack or on the consumption of entire data, whichever is earlier,” said the TRAI notification.

Additionally, the customers also need to be informed through SMS at periodic intervals about the prescribed procedure for deactivation of data.

The regulator said it has been receiving several complaints from consumers regarding non-availability of information relating to the amount of data used during a data session.

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The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

EU
European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

EU
An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

EU
U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)