Indonesia

DOJ to telcos: Penalties await data throttlers

Rappler.com
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima tells telecoms companies that imposing a fair usage policy on unlimited Internet services can be considered misleading or an otherwise unfair business practice

MANILA, Philippines – Do your networks slow down your Internet you have reached the usage cap in a supposedly unlimited plan?

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a warning against them.

In a 9-page advisory, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima told telecoms companies that imposing a fair usage policy on unlimited Internet services can be considered misleading or an otherwise unfair business practice. 

The DOJ urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) on Friday, December 12, to watch and penalize telecommunications companies that impose data throttling on consumers who avail themselves of unlimited Internet packages.

In this case, data throttling – the practice of slowing a user’s upload and download speeds when they reach a given cap on their usage – would be inconsistent with the packaging of an unlimited data promotion.

Such practices would be punishable under provisions of Republic Act 7394 – the Consumer Act of the Philippines – and would entail a P10,000 fine or imprisonment of at least 5 months to a year, or both. 

The justice department also said non-compliance with fair packaging can be criminally penalized with a P20,000 fine or imprisonment of no more than two years. 

The advisory was issued after the DOJ- Office for Competition got a complaint about Touch Mobile’s “Astig FB” promotion, marketed as a promotion for unlimited access to Facebook. 

The advisory also follows compiled complaints by the Office of Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV against PLDT for intermittent connectivity to its Internet services, as well as a complaint against Sky Internet who complained about sudden, frequent downtime with her Internet connection.

The DOJ also disclosed that in the set of complaints compiled filed the DTI for the year 2014, 40 out of 58 complained for intermittently slow to almost no internet service while others were complaining of  capped and restricted unlimited services. 

The DOJ said the DTI should carefully check the approval of sales and promotions of telecommunication companies. It also said the NTC should ensure that conditions or policies imposed by the service providers conform to the prescribed service performance standards.

“In case of non-compliance with the provisions of the Consumer Act and other relevant laws, the regulators should dutifully enforce penalties as prescribed,” the DOJ added. – Rappler.com