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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Qatar’s telecoms watchdog may soon be able to fine offenders

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For illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

New legislation is being considered to give Qatar’s telecoms watchdog the ability to fine service providers that break the law.

In its weekly meeting yesterday, the Cabinet approved a draft law amending some provisions of the telecommunications law No. 34 of 2006, which would give the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) new powers to sanction erring telecoms companies, QNA reports.

Under the proposed changes, the CRA would be able to set up a committee, headed by a court judge, to rule on whether company has violated the law and to fine it for the offense.

The draft law will go to the Advisory Council (Shura) for its input and is still some way off being enacted. If they are, the recommended changes would strengthen the CRA’s current ability to take meaningful action against firms.

The CRA was set up last April under Emiri Decree as an independent regulatory arm of the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQatar) and is responsible for telecoms, access to digital media and the postal service.

Its remit is to enforce the Advertising, Marketing and Branding Code, introduced in September last year, as a means of improving transparency in telecom marketing campaigns.

However, under the existing legislation, the Communications Regulatory Authority cannot penalize companies that it finds in violation of the law, which means telecom providers could ignore its decisions and directives.

Vodafone action

The CRA’s first show of action came last month, when it censured Vodafone Qatar for its recent “3 months free” promotion for postpaid packages, which the watchdog called  “inaccurate and misleading.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

At the time, CRA called on Vodafone to remove or reword the advertisements. However, the provider has challenged the ruling, denying the campaign was misleading and criticized the CRA’s decision-making process.

Vodafone said that it planned to take the decision to the Appeals Committee.

The Advertising Code was introduced to ensure all advertising and marketing undertaken by telecoms providers is “fair, accurate and truthful” and is not confusing to customers.

It warns that marketing to customers must not be intrusive, customer privacy should be protected, all terms and conditions should be clearly explained to customers before the point of sale, and providers must clearly and honestly give a breakdown of all pricing.

Thoughts?

9 COMMENTS

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MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

Doesn’t really make much sense. A telecoms regulator owned by the government fines a telecom company owned by the government. So they just move the money around?

desertCard
desertCard
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Kind of like fining myself

sicti
sicti
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

Moving money from one pocket to another 🙂

MrJames
MrJames
6 years ago
Reply to  desertCard

I just fined myself $50 for farting on the sofa. I made…. $50. It’s a fun game. The long winter evenings just fly by… 🙂

DJ25Q
DJ25Q
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

It sounds good, assuming it will protect customers and allow a fair competition among service providers.

Al Kohol
Al Kohol
6 years ago
Reply to  DJ25Q

“Fair competition” in an overregulated telco market… dream on… Look at the networks. They are in incredibly bad shape. If you have ever seen a U.S. or European LTE/4G network from the inside you don’t need to work for Oreo to know its network is not reliable.

Brains..Use..Them
Brains..Use..Them
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

The government is a shareholder, it’s not fully owned by the government. Basically it’s less money for investors thus less bonus for employees.

Student
Student
6 years ago

“Being considered” = not bothering to read the rest of the article.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

Everything is being considered or mulled, nothing is ever being done!

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