Globe, Smart fined for text spams

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The National Telecommunications Commission has penalized the country’s two largest mobile phone service providers for sending unsolicited and unwanted spam messages to at least four subscribers.

In four separate decisions, two of which were made public yesterday, the NTC asked Globe Telecom Inc. and its partner content providers to pay a fine of P12,200 and Smart Communications and partner P2,200 for violating a rule that prohibits text spamming.

Spam messages are unsolicited or unwanted commercial and promotional advertisements and surveys (Short Messaging System /Multimedia Messaging System) sent more than once for the same promo.

An NTC official said the agency issued the decisions in the wake of rampant text spamming that have turned off thousands of subscribers and forced at least 30 individuals to file separate complaints.

He encouraged other subscribers who are also burdened with such unwanted text messages to file their complaint with the government regulator.

Last year, the NTC approved Memorandum Circular No. 03-03-2005-A, which amended the rules and regulations on broadcast messaging service. The circular imposed stiffer penalties and sanctions, with telcos and content providers with more than 50 violations asked to pay a fine of P200 for every violation. Telcos with violations of 20 or less are asked to pay P200 for every violation.

These companies also run the risk of having their provisional authority/certifica te of public convenience or their certificate of registrations cancelled.

Globe and its partners, Information Gateway Inc. and Paysetter International Inc., were fined P12,200 after the NTC ruled in favor of the complainant, Antonio Santos of Quezon City, who claimed that he received 31 spam messages from July 4 to Aug. 27 last year, although he did not subscribe to such services.

The NTC fined Globe and its partners for 11 violations such as sending text spam, non-registration of content provider, sending promos not registered with the Department of Trade and Industry and resending of text spam message to those who did not reply.

Other violations include failure to display name of content provider in all messages, valid addresses and numbers to which recipients can send request to cease broadcast and adopt the keyword “STOP” as the universal keyword for opting out.

In their response, Globe and its partners denied having sent spam messages and violating the circular. The company dismissed the complaints as purely conjectural, speculative, hypothetical and lacks any legal or factual basis.

Smart and Entertainment Gateway Group were asked to pay a fine of P2,200 based on the complaint of a certain Samuel Sabile who claimed to have suffered disturbance from receiving three spam messages on Sept. 19 last year.

In response, Smart said the messages received by the complainant were “part of a tail-end message which comes with every successful top-up on a Smart pre-paid account.”