With the support of the telecommunications industry, Hong Kong's Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) announced the implementation of a new initiative to tackle the problem of unsolicited promotional telephone calls generated by machines.

"We are very concerned about the serious nuisance caused to the public by 'junk calls'. In February 2005, the Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau launched the STEPS campaign to fight the spam epidemic. Guided by the objectives of this campaign, we have, in consultation with members of the telecommunications industry, formulated a voluntary Code of Practice for handling complaints about 'junk calls'," said a spokesperson of OFTA.

"After a successful trial in April and May, during which operators had terminated seven groups of telephone lines, OFTA and the industry are ready to launch the Code of Practice as a formal procedure," the spokesperson continued.

To be implemented on a voluntary basis, the new procedure, namely, the Code of Practice on Handling Complaints about Inter-operator Unsolicited Promotional Calls Generated by Machines (the 'CoP'), serves as an interim measure to tackle the problem of 'junk calls' before the proposed Unsolicited Electronic Messages Bill is enacted.

"Under the CoP, telephone service providers may suspend or terminate the telephone lines of a 'junk call' sender under the terms and conditions of the telephone service contract if two complaints against it are found substantiated," explained the spokesperson.

According to the CoP, telephone users may lodge complaints about 'junk calls' generated by machines to their telephone service providers. Based on the information provided by the complainants, including the dates and times of receiving the 'junk calls', their contents and the telephone numbers of the 'junk call' senders (if shown), the service providers may initiate investigations into the complaints and take sanctions against those 'junk call' senders as appropriate. Members of the public should however note that the CoP does not apply to promotional calls made by persons.

"We believe that the implementation of non-statutory measures through the cooperation of the telecommunications industry is an important part of our multi-faceted strategy to tackle the problem of spamming," the spokesperson said.

"We are also thankful to the full support given by the fixed operators, mobile operators as well as the mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in pledging to comply with the CoP. We look forward to carrying on our joint effort with the industry to combat the 'junk call' problem," the spokesperson added.

Compared with Hong Kong, the Mainland China does not have a supervision rule for similar services.

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