Australian government moves on SMS spam

Telecommunications authorities down under are considering fines of up to £4m for those who distribute unsolicited bulk text messages

Australian mobile text messaging may be spared the tsunami of spam that cripples email, with carriers involved in the distribution of unsolicited bulk messages facing fines of up to AU$10m (about £4m).

The nation's telecommunications authorities have announced the registration of an industry code governing the delivery of spam to mobiles, with customers required to 'opt in' to receive marketing-oriented bulk short-message services.

The minister for communications, information technology and the arts, Senator Richard Alston, said while the code had been in place for several months, "its registration by the (Australian Communications Authority) 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."

The code also stipulates that consumers can 'opt-out' of receiving marketing-oriented bulk short-message services at any time, using an identifier included in every message.

The code, released under the auspices of the Australian Communications Industry Forum, outlines as its objectives "reducing the incidence of unsolicited marketing messages received by customers" and "promoting the responsible use of short-messaging services for marketing purposes."

Australian networks carry more than 200 million short-message services per month.

ACA chairman Tony Shaw said in a statement that individuals found "junk" short-message services intrusive and 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.


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