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Erotic hotlines posing as a directory assistance number are illegal – regulatory authority blocks number for the first time

The Austrian regulatory authority Telekom-Control-Kommission (TKK) issued a decision on 15 April 2013 blocking the directory assistance number 11838.
Based on a complaint, it was concluded that there was sufficient evidence to prove that erotic services were being provided behind this number and not telephone directory assistance services as specified by law.

As of now ‘directory assistance’ can no longer be reached at 11838

“Such use of the number is not in accordance with its designated purpose and represents a serious violation of the provisions set forth in the applicable ordinance. Masquerading an erotic hotline as directory assistance, instead of providing the service within the (0)93 number range, may be imaginative, but is definitely unlawful,” stated Georg Serentschy, CEO of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division, explaining the regulatory authority’s decision. The TKK consequently made use of the powers vested in the authority by a law passed in November 2011, to order the blocking of any phone numbers which are used inappropriately and are not in accordance with their designated purpose. “Even in the case of directory assistance, there must be a message, before the connection is established, advising callers of the charges, and the rate must not exceed EUR 3.63 per minute. Yet, since any block of value-added services requested by users does not cover directory assistance numbers, more harm had to be expected than just the financial disadvantages for users: when calling 11838, children might also have been confronted with content not intended for them,” Serentschy explained, pointing out the many facets involved when phone numbers are not used in accordance with their designated purpose. “In any case, the number 11838 has now been blocked,” Serentschy announced.

RTR takes targeted steps in the interests of consumer protection to combat the abuse of value-added services.
As an important part of this effort, RTR offers the option of lodging a simple complaint by means of a complaint form. We appreciate every piece of information because that is the only way we can trace the black sheep,” Serentschy concluded.

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