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EU crackdown on mobile phone entertainment sites

EU crackdown on mobile phone entertainment sites

An 18-month long investigation into sites selling mobile phone ringtones, screen savers and backgrounds identified that a total of 301 sites were in breach of EU laws safeguarding consumer rights.

Of the 301 accused, 54 were shut down completely, while a further 159 were forced into changing their operating rules in order to ensure compliance with the laws which govern the industry.

The 2008 Ringtone Sweep report highlighted the key points of contention. Sites which had vague or misleading advertising, hidden charges, expensive contracts and no clear point of contact for consumers were held to be amongst the worst offenders.

Sites which specifically targeted children with popular animated characters were also scrutinised and in some cases made to clarify their marketing in order to lower the risk of any unscrupulous exploitation of suggestible youngsters.

Meglena Kuneva, head of consumer protection at the EU, called for transparency in the pricing of ringtones and other mobile phone media in the future.

Mr Kuneva suggested that ringtone price comparison and healthy competition would allow the consumer to get the best deal.

The ringtone industry is worth over £600 million a year in Europe, accounting for 30 per cent of mobile content and continued regulation is needed to ensure consumer confidence and support.

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