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WASPA takes action to protect SA subscribers from illegal mobile content from offshore

Released: 26 January 2009

Vodacom, MTN and Cell-C have blocked local cellular subscribers from accessing the offshore wireless application protocol (WAP) site, www.waptrick.com, after the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (WASPA) brought illegal pornographic content on the service to their attention.

WASPA was able to quickly identify and take action against the site, thanks to its decision to create an independent Media Monitor to proactively watch over the industry. The Media Monitor detected a range of illegal pornographic and pirated content available on the site during regular testing of WAP sites and alerted the network operators, the police and the Films and Publications Control Board (FPB) to prevent children from accessing this content.

The site provides this pornographic material for free alongside the free games and music downloads that it offers. The site is popular among children and young teenagers because of the free music downloads that it offers. Most of the copyrighted material on Waptrick is provided for free without the permission of the copyright owners, and the site generates revenue from advertising. There is no public record of who owns the site.

"Our aim is to promote the interests of legitimate WASPs and to protect consumers from harmful content and business practices. Even though the service provider responsible for this site is not based in South Africa, we felt that it was important to take action in the interests of consumers and our members," said WASPA chairman, Leon Perlman.

"We are pleased with the prompt response we received from the network operators and promise to keep working closely with our industry partners to keep our mobile networks free of illegal pornographic material. Children form a significant part of the cellular subscriber base and they must be protected from this sort of content."

Once WASPA's Media Monitor has brought illegal content to the association's attention, WASPA will embark upon an investigation and alert the relevant authorities and the network operators so that the content can be blocked and the offending content providers prosecuted.

WASPA's own members have to adhere to the WASPA Code of Conduct, which outlines in detail how the organisation's members should conduct themselves in their interactions with the public. It covers issues such as spam (unsolicited communications), subscription services, advertising and pricing, competition, complaint resolution and adult services. The Code of Conduct outlines a complaints procedure for members of the public who believe that a member of WASPA is violating the Code of Conduct.



WASPA represents the mobile development; value added services and content services community in South Africa. After lobbying the mobile operators and WASPs in late 2003 for an industry body, WASPA's formative meeting was held in August 2004. Membership of WASPA was made mandatory by the mobile operators and TV stations for any company doing value added services in South Africa.

WASPA's remit is to promote and self-regulate the WASP industry. As part of the self-regulatory component of WASPA, there is the now internationally recognized and emulated self-regulatory regime for mobile value added services that includes the WASPA Code of Conduct & Advertising Rules. WASPA's Code of Conduct regulates inter alia, competitions, chat, adult services, spam, CRM, advertising of services,subscription services and pricing. The first version of the Code was passed in June 2004 and implemented on 1 September 2005. It has been updated numerous times as the need has arisen.

Enforcement of the Code & Advertising Rules is achieved by a novel quasi-judicial system that consists of a procedure for lodging and responding to complaints where it is thought the Code is being contravened. Adherence to the Code and the Advertising rules is mandatory for all providers operating in South Africa.

ICT lawyers acting as WASPA adjudicators will find on the merits and have the power to suspend, fine, expel any WASP or Information Provider found to contravene the Code rules. Adjudications are enforced through contractual provisions in all WASP agreements. There is also a 3-person appeals panel as well as an emergency panel.

Issued by:

Ivan Booth
Reliable Sources PR
082 851 7419
ivan (at) reliablesources.co.za