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Mobile operators denounce spam

Industry group GSM Europe has given qualified support to anti-spam initiatives
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

The European arm of the GSM Association has given its guarded backing for initiatives unveiled by the European Commission aimed at combating spam.

GSM Europe (GSME), an interest group within the GSMA, which represents hundreds of mobile operators around the world, has warned mobile spam isn't only irritating to individuals but threatens operators in terms of network overhead and poor PR.

Niklas Henricson, a GSME MCommerce Working Group delegate, told silicon.com that Article 13 of Directive 2002/58/EC of 12 July 2002 on Privacy and Electronic Communications -- as put forward last week by commissioner Erkki Liikanen -- is welcome. It calls for opt-ins from end users, except where there is an existing customer relationship.

"However, we have to explain it and clarify that this directive will not end spam because it will still keep on coming from the US and Asia," Henricson said. "There are also certain rights that the industry will have as well."

These are aimed at protecting legitimate direct marketing operations.

One of the main dangers for consumers and operators alike comes as the migration to 3G gathers momentum and, even before then, consumers start using richer MMS messaging.

Henricson added: "We're hoping that 3G will deliver new services but if people are getting spam at the beginning they may be annoyed. We want to fight it as early as possible."

At last month's spam summit at the House of Commons, delegates expressed similar concerns but for reasons not so operator-focused.

Commenting on the evolution of spam; from faxes, chat rooms, and email to SMS, MessageLabs vice president of marketing David Kehoe said: "The concern with the 3G element is the ability to deliver graphical pictures and the fact that we are all concerned that our children will have these devices long before we have them and will be seeing these pictures, because you go directly to them in a way that you as parents cannot easily screen."

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