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Three mobile network operators taken to court for SMS spam

The Chilean national consumer protection service Sernac has reportedly taken three mobile operators to court over sending SMS spam about contests and sweepstakes.  As a result of the study they carried out between Dec 2012 and Feb 2013 the three networks are potentially facing fines totaling $86 million.

A google translate indicates that the reports state the networks failed to provide an opt-out, failed to indicate costs clearly, or the dates and other terms of the offers advertised.

There is an excellent release from the consumer protection agency, note the box at the bottom with the summary of the legal issues involved: (Google translate) Delivery of Advertising: Sernac justice denounced Claro, Movistar and Entel for not respecting the Rights of Consumers.  [ News, more news ]

This isn’t just a local phenomenon. We estimate SMS spam levels to be hitting 575M/day globally and there are other groups actively taking action already.  In the US the FTC are prosecuting 29 defendants for SMS spam.  In the UK the consumer group Which? are campaigning for action on shady SMS marketing and are calling for a taskforce to address it, meanwhile the ICO have issued substantial fines to SMS spammers touting shady PPI schemes.   

I’m all for a decent dose of vigilante consumerism but I have to say I’m a little sceptical right now. It will be interesting to see in the Chilean case if these show guilt on the part of the operators or find that third party marketing companies were actually at fault, but either way, that’s what I call a LART.

Finally, you can of course do your bit to help prevent SMS spam by forwarding the message to 7726.

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