TPS actually respond

I asked for my SIP URIs to be included in the TPS...

The first time I got a response of "we can't but we'll ask OFCOM", and OFCOM answered very much "TPS can only do digits".

But to my surprise, having written again (from work this time) I actually got a more comprehensive reply. This may be because I complained to the ICO, not sure.

Basically he is saying the definition of "Number" (as in "Telephone number") in the Communications Act 2003 is not carried across to the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003. So they only accept "numbers" in the traditional sense.

I may write back, as, indeed, he is right, there is no definition of "number" in the PECR, so one would indeed expect it to be "number" in the traditional sense... But "registration number", "vehicle identification number", "national insurance number", "serial number", all of which allow things other than just digits, so there is not really much "tradition" in numbers only being digits, certainly not in law.

It also seems to me that the TPS has to list numbers "allocated to a line", and "line" covers things that perform the function of a line. My SIP phone here clearly does that and the "number" allocated by my telco to that line is my SIP URI - i.e. it is my telco that has allocated the SIP URI as a "number", so it counts.

He does say that he will ensure the proper regulatory treatment of SIP addresses is brought to the attention of the relevant authorities in the future. It seems mean having a go now - as he has tried, but I'll give it a go anyway...

Update: I have replied to him :-

Update: The TPS site won't accept my Iridium mobile number, so I am writing to them to add that. That is only digits, so they should accept it. Of course, I know that no junk caller would be mad enough to ever call it, but I am entitled to have it included in the register I believe.


  1. I suppose you could argue that certain numbers are in base 36... but that's not much help re SIP addresses.

  2. I wonder if SIP text messages are regulated by any of the same stuff as SMS?..

    1. From what I can see, PECR doesn't explicitly talk about SMS, but the consensus seems to be that SMS is "electronic mail" and so falls under the same regulation as email (section 22).

      Section 22 doesn't seem to place any restriction on the recipient's address - in fact, it talks about "contact details" rather than "address" or "number", so that seems far more inclusive.

      Given the assumption that SMS and Email are both "electronic mail", I would expect SIP text messages, instant messaging services, etc.to all be covered in the same way.

      I wonder if voicemails would be "electronic mail" too, although that might be stretching it a bit. :)

  3. My understanding is that where a term is used in a piece of legislation, and where the legislation doesn't give a specialised definition of what that term means, then the term is to given its usual everyday meaning.

    In this case, the usual everyday meaning of "telephone number" would probably be understood to include digits only, and hence a SIP URI wouldn't qualify.

    (I'm not a lawyer, though)

    1. Indeed, and neither am I.

      In this case it does not say "telephone number" it is "number allocated to the subscriber for the line" or something like that, and goes to some bother to say "line" covers anything that works like a line. So it is trying to be future proof in that respect.

      The issue here is that the everyday meaning of something like this is changing - people can get "telephone calls' on they mobile which are addressed using an email address, or a FaceBook name, and not a sequence of digits.

      To my mind the regulations do already cover some of that (the fact you have to be a "subscriber" still presumes a telco, which is not always the case, but can be contrived, as I have).

      We'll see what he says.

    2. PECR says "a register of the numbers allocated to individual subscribers", which is actually pretty vague when taken out of context - such a number may not be the phone number, it could be any number allocated to the subscriber, such as an internal customer number or your SIM card's IMSI number, etc. All of which would be pretty useless for the purposes of TPS!

      I just found this consultation (sadly now closed), which is interesting: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/367498/LOWERING_THE_LEGAL_THRESHOLD__.pdf
      I'm rarely troubled by unsolicited phone calls, but having spent a week with my wife's gran last year I was pretty shocked to discover that she was getting tens of junk calls a day, every day (she wasn't registered with TPS... we registered her as soon as we saw the problem - I must ask her if it's helped).

      Its clear that the PECR wasn't written by a techy - I suspect anyone technical would've specified a generic "recipient address" rather than specifically talking about a "number".

      In the end I don't really see why email and telephone need to be treated separately by the legislation - there doesn't really seem to be a good reason not to write a single piece of legislation that specifies what can and can't be done in terms of direct marketing over either media without making a distinction between them.

      I don't think SIP telesales are currently a problem, but In any case, it is good to see them starting to take this stuff seriously before it becomes a problem, even if they can't currently implement a solution. (I do see a lot of junk SIP calls bounce off my PBXes, but largely these seem to be automated scans to try and make free chargable PSTN calls though badly configured VoIP systems, rather than being cold-calls in their own right.)

    3. Indeed, this is kind of why I am doing this - I don't expect SIP junk calls, but I really see no reason why they might no start happening - or more likely FaceTime audio calls to email addresses, or FaceBook calls, or other such intrusive junk calls that don't use traditional telephony.

    4. Allocated to an individual subscriber of what, though?

      Is FaceTime an electronic communications service, to which one can be a subscriber? (My view is "no", currently.) Or is it a subscriber of the broadband transmission service, over which the call is carried?

      I would see a combination of AAISP's SIP2SIM and my Asterisk server in much the same way as FaceTime: I may (probably am) be a subscriber to SIP2SIM, but the only number allocated to me in respect of that line is the SIM's ICCID. Is my own SIP server an "electronic communications service" — no, it's not, in my view...

  4. What's in the QR code?
    What do you use it for?

    1. I expected that question! In this case it is the internal account number A156K for that contact on the "kennard" accounts. For other documents it is a document reference. Any scanned documents pick that up for auto-filing.

    2. Oh, and sorry, NO IT IS NOT A QR CODE. It is an IEC16022 data matrix code, which is much better for such things.

    3. Ah yes. No square thingies in the corners. :-)

      Thanks for the reply. I've been thinking about putting some 1D barcodes on my own documents for similar things. Do you have your own software or a recommendation for some command line tool that can take an image and read the barcodes inside it?

    4. There are good open source Linux tools to both OCR and read 1D and 2D barcodes which I use with a good canon document feeder/scanner

  5. I just tried replacing my mobile number in Clueless with my SIP URI, and it wouldn't take it; it ran out of spaces before I could put in the full TLD :)


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