Sunday, 16 January 2011

Orange still breaking the law!

Back in 1999 when the The Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999 (No. 2093) came in to force we had a long chat with Orange, OFTEL/OFCOM and the ICO about Orange not providing anonymous call rejection on their mobile services. Indeed no mobile providers offering it.

The whole thing went on for a long time with excuse after excuse. We were told you can "Just press the red button". We were told orange could not tell the number was withheld (wrong!). We were told that as ACR was not part of an ETSI spec they could not do it (even though they did other things with incoming calls that were not part of an ETSI spec). We were eventually told that even though the ICO agreed they were in breach of the law and that we could ask the ICO to take enforcement action, the ICO would do nothing (they claimed they did not have to even though the act says they shall take enforcement measures).

The key phrase from 12(3) of that Act, and now 11(3) of The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (No. 2426) is:-

"Where a facility enabling the presentation of calling line identification prior to the call being established is available, the provider of a public electronic communications service shall provide the called subscriber with a simple means of rejecting incoming calls where the presentation of the calling line identification has been prevented by the calling user or subscriber."

The wording has only subtly changed in the new legislation. The key thing is that the called subscriber has the means to reject the call, not the called user. This means if I pay the bill, I have means to reject such calls even when the phone is in someone else's hands. That can only really be done with a anonymous call rejection service that I can turn on. Pressing the red button only works for the phone user.

Apparently, as a friend of mine has just been told by Orange, they still do not offer ACR.

So, I wonder if the ICO want to take action yet.

What is interesting is the law allows for a civil case of an affected party to claim damages resulting from this failure. It is hard to see how you would have costs and I bet no claim has been made. But it does raise an interesting issue. A&A do offer a mobile service with ACR but on geographic numbers and with charges for incoming calls. Someone could move to A&A because Orange do not do ACR and then sue for the additional charges they have. What fun. I may suggest my friend does this!

AFAIK it is not just Orange that are still in breach of this law, and I am basing this article on what Orange told an Orange customer (a friend of mine). If I am wrong and Orange do offer ACR I will be more than happy to publish that fact and an apology. Either way I'd love to hear from Orange about when they will comply with a law from last millennium...


  1. I've heard other bad stories about Orange before. It's disheartening to see it happened to you, as well. Let's just hope justice is brought upon to Orange very soon.

    call recording

  2. On my phone, and my previous phone, there's a feature called "auto-reject", which can be enabled for any anonymous calls - I assume (perhaps wrongly) that this is in most other new (post 2005) mobile phones. Are Orange not allowed to say that they don't need to, as the phone itself has this feature?

  3. The main issues is that the "subscriber", not the "user", has to have the option to reject calls.

    The legislation defines the two terms carefully. Any phone related feature would be controlled by the user, just as "pressing the red button when they call" is. The subscriber may be nowhere near.