Business Technology

Monday 26 June 2017

Telecoms watchdog demands €5m fines to punish operators

The watchdog also wants the power to administer fines without having to go through courts. (stock photo)
The watchdog also wants the power to administer fines without having to go through courts. (stock photo)
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Ireland's telecoms watchdog wants to increase operator fines from €500,000 to €5m to punish big operators who "deliberately" break the rules.

In a policy document published online, ComReg said the current system of fines isn't working.

"Serious breaches are sometimes deliberate and often affect large numbers of customers and end-users," it said in its Electronics Communications Services Strategy Statement 2017-2019.

It added: "Service providers often profit significantly, and unjustly, from breaking the law." To fix this, ComReg wants maximum fines to be increased tenfold.

"Potential fines must be sufficiently high to act as a strong deterrent," said the ComReg document. "We will continue to advocate for an increase in the maximum fine that may be imposed for criminal offences, following conviction on indictment. This was reduced in 2011 to a maximum fine of only €500,000, which is too low to have a significant deterrent effect in the context of the scale of many of the operators in the telecommunications sector. We consider that the previous provision for fines of up to 10pc of turnover or €5m, whichever is the higher, would be more appropriate."

The watchdog also wants the power to administer fines without having to go through courts. "In contrast to court- imposed financial sanctions, administrative fines can be applied immediately and thus act as a greater deterrent against breaking the law," said the watchdog. Last year, ComReg issued 14 enforcement notices to a variety of telecoms companies.

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