The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) referred the three major mobile operators—Vodafone, Orange, and Etisalat—to the Administrative Prosecution for their refusal to comply with the CPA decision to cease advertising their call tone services through the ringback tone without the consumer’s consent to use his or her number as an advertisement platform.
The ringback tone is heard by the person calling while the destination being called is ringing. Recently, the normal ringing tone has been replaced by advertisements for call tones.
The Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) has received several complaints from citizens regarding the audio advertising services they are forced to listen to when making phone calls, chairperson Atef Yacoub said. The three mobile operators offer call tone services, which include advertisement songs.
All three mobile operators did not respect consumer privacy or religious beliefs, Yacoub said. Moreover, these companies did not obtain prior consent from the CPA to advertise through this method.
The CPA addressed the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) which, in turn, contacted the three mobile operators to cease these advertisements, pending setting rules and regulations for this service. However, the mobile operators refused to comply.
This is a violation of Article 2 of the Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits any contract that prejudices the fundamental rights of the consumer, including the right to personal dignity and respect for religious values, customs and traditions, Yacoub said.
A government official said three operators contacted the NTRA in February, once they received a notification from the CPA to cease the advertisements which “go against religious values and traditions”.
He added that the mobile operators did not reply to the CPA notification, but rather opened a channel of communication with the NTRA as it is the only authority responsible for regulating the telecommunication sector, which led to their referral to the general prosecution.
Khaled Hegazy, external affairs and legal director for Vodafone Egypt, refused to comment on the referral of the three mobile operators to the financial and business prosecution.
Orange and Etisalat could not be reached for comment.