Obviously, as a business, we have to know our customer. To be more specific we have to know some particular details about our customer.
This is not always true - a shop selling a mars bar does not have to know anything of their customer, and neither does someone running a vending machine.
However, we have to know some details, though in theory we could provide some services where we do not need to.
For a start we have to know what that customer's legal entity is, e.g. a limited company, or a sole trader, or so on. We also have to know a service address. The reason for these, apart from anything else, is so that we are able to enforce the contract (to take someone to court if necessary) for things like non-payment of bills. This is the same for pretty much any businesses offering any sort of ongoing service.
But we also have to know a few other things, and we do ask some of these when people order. Here are just a few examples of what and why...
If someone is under 18 they are a minor, and there are a whole load of things that impact the contract we can make with a minor and the extent that we can enforce such a contract. We have actually made a decision for the services we offer not to deal with minors (sorry). We do ask though, as lying about that would be fraud. If we did not ask, it would be tough luck on us.
The rules on contracts, in terms of what is allowed, and some of the steps we have take in giving notice of contract terms and getting agreement, are impacted by whether someone is a consumer or a business. Consumers have extra rights for cancelling contracts that have not yet been provided. There are also differences in terms of late payment penalties that can be applied. Of course it is possible for someone to be an individual, but buying as a sole trader in a business and so not be a consumer!
Small business (10 or fewer individuals work for the business, paid or volunteer)
This is a complicated one, as any small business can change to have greater or fewer staff over time. This one impacts a couple of things - one is the ability to make use of ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution). Someone with more than 10 people doing work for them cannot use ADR.
This is also part of the new GC22 migration. Anyone with more that 10 people cannot expect to be able to migrate broadband or fixed line telephone services (though in practice they may be able to).
This is complicated!
For Digital Economy Act, being a Communications Provider means you are exempt from copyright notices. It is possible to be a Communications Provider and not be an Internet Service Provider, even, so avoiding other obligations of the Digital Economy Act. However, for this, the definition of Communications Provider comes from the Communications Act, and seems to me to cover anyone with a network switch or router at home would meet the definition.
For ADR, a Communications Provider cannot use ADR, and that definition is from the Communications Act too.
For GC22 migrations of broadband or fixed line, the definition is different! It is someone providing DSL (including FTTC) or fixed line telephone services, so someone with a switch at home is not a Communications Provider under that definition.
This makes "Knowing your customer" slightly more complex as someone could (a) be a Communications Provider under the Communications Act (and so for DEA and ADR) reasons, but could be (b) a Communications Provider under OFCOM GC22, quite independently (one, or the other or both). You then have that for DEA one has to be "buying service as a Communications Provider" so it is not simply whether you are one, but if you are buying as one!
At the moment we ask if someone is a Communications Provider under the Communications Act, but we may have to refine that question slightly!