Developers could face stricter rules over mobile application charges following changes to the way premium rate services (PRS) are regulated.
Regulator PhonepayPlus has launched a public consultation on its proposed guidance on mobile apps following an "increasing need" to address issues surrounding premium-rate texts and other hidden charges in some mobile applications.
PhonepayPlus cited a recent example of a supposed free battery-saver app, which could access phone text messaging functions and sign-up to premium rate subscription service without users' consent.
"Our aim is to intervene early to ensure that those downside risks do not have a detrimental impact on consumers, children or, indeed, the many legitimate providers of innovative new digital services that we want to encourage within UK plc," said PhonepayPlus in a statement.
The regulator has outlined risks in the lack of transparency surrounding some app purchases, particularly with "freemium" apps, which can charge consumers once the free-trial period lapses.
The regulator also outlined risks in malware that charge consumers without consent. The organisation proposes password protection for some paid-for apps.
The regulator has the ability to fine providers up to £250,000 for breach of its code of practice and can also ban named providers from the UK market. PhonepayPlus's code of practice came into force on 1 September 2011.
The public consultation closes on 5th December 2011.
According to the BBC, PhonepayPlus recently shut down two rogue mobile apps that charged unknowing users.