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ACM reminds telecom operators of their duty to cooperate in combatting unsolicited anonymous calls

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has reminded telecom operators of their duty to help victims of unsolicited anonymous calls. ACM decided to take action following reports that operators do not always follow the rules if someone files a complaint about an anonymous caller. Individuals who are bothered by unsolicited anonymous calls are insufficiently helped, if they want to take action against the anonymous caller. ACM finds it important that telecom operators comply with their statutory obligation to investigate, and to provide details of the anonymous caller to the victim, so the victim is able to take action.

The Dutch Telecommunications Act

Tthe Dutch Telecommunications Act stipulates how telecom operators must act when someone receives unsolicited calls from an anonymous caller. The individual who receives such calls will have the opportunity to file a request with the telecom operator for providing the contact details of the anonymous caller, which are the caller’s telephone number, name, address, postal code, and place of residence. Before providing these details, the telecom operator will first investigate the calls.

Telecom operators must investigate

If an individual receives unsolicited calls, and this individual has submitted a request, the telecom operator will be required to conduct an investigation. Several operators give anonymous callers a warning to stop the unsolicited calls. However, a warning alone is not enough. The operator must also provide the name and contact details of the anonymous caller. With that information, the individual who is bothered by the anonymous caller can go to court, for example. If the unsolicited calls are made by call centers, it is not enough for the telecom operator merely referring the individual receiving the calls to the Dutch ‘Do-not-call-me Register’, where people are able to opt out of unsolicited calls made by call centers.

Taking enforcement action

ACM assumes that telecom operators will comply with the rules for investigation, as laid down in the Dutch Telecommunications Act (Section 11.11). If this is not the case, ACM can take enforcement action by, for example, imposing an order subject to periodic penalty payments or a fine.