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WAP Have You Been Doing?

Released: 19 June 2012

It has been a long time since anyone spoke about WAP (Wireless Application Protocol). WAP, however, remains one of the primary ways in which the mobile consumer accesses data services.

Recognising the continued importance of the original data technology, the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association of SA (WASPA) has added strong consumer protection clauses relating to WAP in the latest version of the Association's Code of Conduct.

Version 12.0 of the WASPA Code of Conduct was ratified by members at a recent AGM with clauses 13.3.2 through to 13.3.4 specifically making provision for WAP 'push' messages sent to consumers to "include a short code to which the recipient can send the STOP command to opt-out."

In addition, "further information on how the recipient can opt out of future promotions must also be available from the WAP site." Most importantly, "The type of service (e.g. subscription service) and the cost of service (e.g. R7/day) must also be clearly displayed within the WAP site."

According to Russel Stromin, chair of WASPA's Code of Conduct Committee, these amendments to the WASPA Code of Conduct represent further tightening up of the rules according to which WASPs conduct their business. "The addition of new clauses pertaining to WAP services may seem relatively minor but they are the latest in a very long line of enhancements to the WASPA Code of Conduct. What we are seeing now is further evidence of a long term trend of active consumer protection by WASPA," explained Mr Stromin. "While the amendments are minor, the thinking behind them represents a major and extended commitment towards ensuring South African mobile users feel secure when they interact with our members' services.

"Without codifying the framework within which WASPs operate, anything goes. In an industry where anything goes, nobody feels secure, especially consumers," said Mr Stromin.

While some clauses have been amended, the overriding objective of the WASPA Code of Conduct remains the same, as set out in Clause 1.2 of the Code: "The primary objective of the WASPA Code of Conduct is to ensure that members of the public can use mobile services with confidence, assured that they will be provided with accurate information about all services and the pricing associated with those services."

Furthermore, the Code aims to: "equip customers and consumers with a mechanism for addressing any concerns or complaints relating to services provided by WASPA members"

The WASPA Code of Conduct also sets standards for advertising mobile application services, and includes a framework for the provision of adult services, to ensure adequate protection of children from potentially harmful content.

A version of the Code showing the changes from version 11.6 and an annotated version are available for download via the Code archive page on the WASPA Website: http://www.waspa.org.za/code/archcoc.shtml

"We are very pleased with the current incarnation of the WASPA Code of Conduct. It is essentially the most up-to-date mobile consumer protection document in the country right now," concluded Mr 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