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WASPA Engages With Public to Refine Code of Conduct

Released: 10 November 2010

The South African Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (WASPA) has released the latest version of its Code of Conduct after listening to and considering feedback and suggestions from the public.

The new version of the Code incorporates a number of changes and additions that offer even more peace of mind to consumers that use mobile applications, services and content provided by WASPA members.

WASPA members and the responsible steering committee hammered out the new version of the Code after debating comments they received from the public.

Two examples of suggestions from the public that WASPA has taken on board include a decision to invite a National Consumer Commission representative to attend Code Steering Committee workshops as an observer and a commitment to implement a simple Web form where consumers can easily submit spam complaints.

Said WASPA chairman, Leon Perlman: "WASPA has put this Code in place to ensure that our members behave in a manner that is ethical and fair to South African consumers. As such, it is only right that we spend some time listing to the concerns that consumers have about the industry and take their views about how WASPs should behave into account."

WASPA's Code Steering Committee was delighted by how keen the organisation's members were to engage with suggestions from the public and how seriously they took the public's concerns, he adds. "This vindicates self-regulation in our industry since our members truly understand how ethical and transparent behaviour makes business sense," says Perlman.

One example of a change in the new version of the Code that is already making a difference for consumers is a requirement that a confirmation page must be displayed when a consumer indicates interest in signing up for a WAP subscription service. This confirmation page must be displayed after the subscriber has first indicated an interest in the subscription service by clicking on a "join" or similar link.

It must display the price and frequency of the service and the name of the service in a clear manner as well as provide a telephone number for customer support. This clause has already dramatically decreased consumer complaints about billing for WAP services in the few weeks since it was introduced a few weeks ago.

The Code of Conduct packs a real punch since WASPA can sanction members who break the rules with penalties that range from hefty fines to suspension from the organisation. It also provides a mechanism through which members of the public can address grievances with service providers that engage in bad practices like spamming or misleading consumers about subscription fees.

Concludes Perlman: "Each new version of our Code of Conduct, adds further protections for consumers, ensuring can be sure that they can enjoy WASP services in an environment that is fair and transparent to consumers and service providers alike."



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