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.
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.”
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.