Pulling the (phone) plug

Ireland is to become the first country in the world to block direct-dialled calls to entire countries. The decision, by Commission for Communication Regulation ComReg, is an attempt to stop an internet-based fraud that relies on modem-jacking. But, while the BBC report focuses on the need to counter the fraud, the blocking of entire nations’ phone systems to direct calls is not the only response availableThe move has understandably received world-wide press attention – Canada, US, Australia, as well as in technology-focused media such as CNET News – but perhaps the most interesting report comes from The New Zealand Herald.

New Zealand Telecom has been aware of the same problem for 1 ½ years, but their approach would seem to be both measured and appropriate – “Telecom’s policy was to waive the charge the first time and advise customers how to install software to protect them from further abuse. The fraudulently used number was also barred from use by others.”

By contrast Ireland seems to be taking excessive action that penalises customers rather than demand that telecom companies respond in a more service-based manner.

That action has resulted in complaints from representatives of the island nations affected – “Political representatives of the Solomon Islands and the Cook Islands plan to travel to Dublin next week to urge the Government not to impose a ban on all phone calls made to the islands” – Irish Times (subs)