We are always happy to see legal action taken against spammers, so it was good to hear from the UK that one of the leading payday loan SMS spammers was facing a fine of £175,000 ($285,000) imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). We were even more pleased to see that much of the evidence for this case came from spam text messages forwarded to 7726.
The ICO’s Monetary Penalty Notice [PDF] states
The number of complaints made to the mobile telephone networks using their complaints system (whereby the text is sent by the complainant to a special number which is 7726) can be broken down into three categories:-
- Everything Everywhere – 444
- Vodafone – 3,197
- 3 – 390
The 4,031 complaints sent via 7726 dwarfs the 323 complaints that came in through the ICO’s own consumer spam complaints system, and the ICO noted that all of those 323 spam recipients had also forwarded their messages to 7726!
The volume of complaints is particularly important to the ICO. The previous large fine that they levied against SMS spammers was overturned on appeal. Though the spammers had sent out millions of text messages, the ICO only had complete records of 286 of the texts being sent after 26 May 2011 (the date that the ICO first had the power to issue monetary penalties for spamming). The court ruled that this was insufficient, and the spammers did not have to pay a fine.
So reports to 7726 really do help, both short term in providing the tactical information that allows carriers to respond to new attacks, and long term, in providing law enforcement agencies with the evidence they need to bring spammers to justice.