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Help reduce mobile spam, before it's too late

Released: 2 December 2011

"Help reduce mobile spam, before it's too late" - WASPA

Spam has become so prevalent on the Internet that some researchers estimate up to 90% of all e-mail traffic is spam. As mobile communication has grown in popularity, mobile spam, or m-spam, is similarly increasing. However, m-spam is currently nowhere close to the problem of email spam - yet.

That's according to the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of SA (WASPA) which says that as mobile devices become the primary way that people communicate and access the Internet, it is logical to assume that m-spam will increase in volume.Chair of WASPA`s Code of Conduct Working Group, Russel Stromin, says, "It is vital that the industry, and consumers of mobile content and applications, work hard to create an anti-spam culture right now.We all need to cooperate on ways to stem the tide before m-spam swamps us all and degrades what is a brilliant marketing and communications medium."

Many people find m-spam much more offensive than e-mail spam because the mobile device is carried on one's person and therefore much more personal. Unwanted and uninvited communication on this highly personal device thus tends to feel much more intrusive. And that`s understandable.

So, how can businesses that use SMSs for marketing and mobile phone users go about reducing m-spam now, before it's too late?

Tips for businesses

Commercial SMS messaging in South Africa is regulated by the industry organisation WASPA. Unfortunately, some messaging providers send messages via unauthorised routes in order to bypass the jurisdiction of WASPA. Tracking down the origin of SMSs using this kind of routing is hard, so the originators are seldom held accountable.

Thus, businesses should only use messaging providers that are members of WASPA. WASPA provides a list of its members at http://www.waspa.org.za/members/index.php. WASPA members are also required to display their membership of WASPA on their websites.

To ensure that messages are sent via a legitimate route, businesses should also verify that the originating number of messages is registered at http://www.smscode.co.za/index.asp. Legitimate numbers will always be local, using the +27 South African dialling prefix.

Tips for consumers

When consumers receive commercial SMS messages, they should also check the SMS Code website at http://www.smscode.co.za/index.asp to see whether a registered number was used. If not, they should take the matter up with the business, and urge it to use a member of WASPA.

"Pressure from customers is the surest way to change behaviours because the customer is still king, no matter what anyone says," notes Stromin.

When unsolicited messages are received from WASPA members, a complaint can be logged at WASPA's website, http://www.waspa.org.za.

"If all businesses use only WASPA members for messaging, and only send via registered originating numbers, WASPA will be able to regulate the commercial SMS messaging space much better. This will increase the value of SMS messaging for all," concludes Stromin.



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