Carriers to face $10m fine for junk SMS messages
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Junk mobile phone text messages are about to
be canned, with carriers to be fined up to $10 million if they fail to
stop unsolicited spam.
The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) today said it registered the telecommunications industry code to protect mobile phone users from unsolicited junk messages.
Carriers and service providers will be required to comply with a set of rules for sending marketing messages using SMS and to advise people designing the messages about the rules.
Under the code, SMS marketers would not be able to send messages to people unless they agreed to opt in.
Mobile users could opt out at any time
using an identifier, which must be included in every SMS marketing
message, the code said.
Carriers are being empowered to cut off spam, but if they don't they face fines of up to $10 million.
Most junk messages are marketing offers.
But it is not yet of the same plague proportions as spam email, with SMS only now becoming a more popular and convenient form of communicating.
ACA chairman Tony Shaw said people found junk SMS intrusive and it blocked storage space in their phones.
"Mobile phones have limited capacity to store messages and recipients have no choice but to open the message if they want to clear their message box," he said.
Communications Minister Richard Alston said the use of SMS was rapidly expanding and junk spam was expected to rise, hence the code.
"While it (the code) has been in place for several months, its registration by the ACA will enable the ACA to direct carriers and carriage service providers to comply with the code rules - with a breach of such a direction attracting severe financial penalties," Senator Alston said.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman currently does not monitor spam SMS messages but it is hoped the code will fix the problem before it lurches out of control.
On the issue of spam, the government is closer to presenting its draft laws to curb junk email.
Senator Alston is expected to take the proposal to cabinet soon.