Help reduce mobile spam, before it’s too late

Published on: December 2, 2011

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 athttp://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.