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US Cell Phone Users Discover SMS Spam 314

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the its-only-gonna-get-worse dept.
The Llama King writes "It's a bigger problem in Europe and Japan/Asia, but as SMS text messaging or "texting" becomes more popular in the United States, its users are discovering that spammers like it too, according to this Houston Chronicle story. Cell phone companies are trying to stem the spam flood before it starts, worried that users will turn off their phones, thus denying providers revenue."
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US Cell Phone Users Discover SMS Spam

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  • "Unlike Internet spam, wireless phone spam comes with an annoying beep on your phone and a direct price tag," said Janee Briesemeister, senior policy analyst with the Consumers Union in Austin. "Consumers aren't just getting an annoying message they didn't want, they are paying 10 cents for it."

    Perhaps because this will directly affect people's pocketbooks we'll see faster legislation. Not unlike taxes, when people start losing money, the louder they become.

    Mike
    • You pay to receive SMSs? That's messed up.
    • by smokin_juan (469699) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:42PM (#6325278) Homepage Journal
      the big question is: why the hell do SMSs cost 5-10 cents? for god sakes, i condense my conversation and take a fraction of the bandwith of a voice call so these rat-bastards can charge extra for it. it just ain't right unless you're talking about spam-deterrent, and spam-deterrent it ain't. it's just another case of companies charging money where they can, not where they ought to. i'll be more than happy to pay for the blades AND the razor but for fuck sakes charge the right price for 'em. and you may wonder why the economy is tanking - because, as i've outlined above, it's ficticious bullshit and wether or not people realize it, they're sick of it.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:57PM (#6325363) Journal
        If you work it out, then paying 5p / text message is the equavalent to paying over £450 per megabyte [theravensnest.org]
        • This maybe true, but it isn't what the user is paying for - they are paying for the service.

          If it's too expensive, don't use it! Personally I think texting is convenient and less intrusive than interrupting a person with a phone call to ask a quick question which is neither urgent or important (e.g. where are you going out tonight). I use it a lot and pay the extra, and am happy for this service.
          • Damn Right! Companies will only charge what people are willing to pay. some other posters say "hell no that costs too damn much" but many other say the cost is just about right, I wouldn't mind it be less (then again who wouldn't) but I am willing to pay the price. Simple economics prices will equal whatever the market will bear, unless you have a monopoly

        • With leaner, less profitable but better technological systems. It is like ISDN and Frame Relay: the California phone company resisted replacing them with DSL for years, because the former were so much more profitable. The consumers of California lost out, having to wait extra years for cheap DSL to be widely available.
      • The 5-10 cents is an over-quote. With my plan, I get 300 incoming SMS messages a month, any more than that they charge you $2 or $3 for an extra 50, etc. I imagine other cell phone plans are similarly structured. Text messages aren't free, but they're included with the price of the plan in most cases.
      • the big question is: why the hell do SMSs cost 5-10 cents?

        I have a bigger question: Why do we have to pay for incoming anything? I know that in other countries (such as Brazil), that doesn't happen.

        • Why do we have to pay for incoming anything?

          Because people want to allow SMS messages from people who don't have an account with your cell phone company (or any cell phone company, for that matter). Someone has to pay, and the phone company can't collect from the sender, so they collect from the recipient.

          If you don't want to pay for this, I'm sure you can call your phone company and have them shut it off. And I bet if you complained about these messages being sent without your permission, you'd be ab

    • by marshac (580242) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:54PM (#6325343) Homepage
      Title 47 does seem to provide for protection against SMS-style spam. The reason is that for it costs YOU money to receive the unsolicited ads.

      'to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call;'

      So I believe that if you wanted to, you would have grounds for a lawsuit under current law.
    • Poor Rational (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sturm (914) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @01:00PM (#6325385) Journal
      It's exactly this sort of logic that has prevented any meaningful progress in the War Against E-mail Spam. Even though you don't see it on your bill, E-mail spam DOES cost the end user in money and time, just like SMS spam. Spammers would have you believe that spam is "free" and of course their favorite argument, "It's easy to just hit delete". But, as many of us know, this argument is misleading. Certainly this line of thinking would have some validity if we just received one or two pieces of spam a day. However, the truth of the matter is that for someone who makes $20 or $30 an hour, a half an hour a day to wade through 100s of E-mail spams beccomes quite costly. All of the sudden, 10 or 20 SMS spams a day at $0.10 a pop look cheap in comparison. And this doesn't even begin to touch upon the added costs in equipment, bandwidth and personnel that ISPs have to procure to store, send/receive and try to stem the flood E-mail spam. Those costs almost certainly will be passed on to the customer as well.
      We need to try to get rid of ALL spam. Whether it's SMS, E-mail, dead tree, fax or whatever.
    • What we need is technology to address this issue. Right now it's possible to send tons of SPAM e-mail and make it very difficult to trace. SMS implementations need to have a definate REAL return address.

      At that point, companies can trace SPAMMERS, block them, or sue them in court. Today, half the problem is identifying who these people are because e-mail is so loose on the addressing issue.

      Why would you want legislation after debacles like the DMCA (which almost all Senators hold up as their crown

  • Easy Solution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Davak (526912) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:33PM (#6325229) Homepage

    An easy solution exists for this. The cell phone shouldn't accept text messages from someone the user has called the number previously or unless the number exists in the contacts listing.

    What's the odds of getting messages from someone whom you have never spoken with on the phone previously?

    Of course, this could be an enabled or disabled option.

    Daval
    • by Davak (526912) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:36PM (#6325237) Homepage
      The cell phone shouldn't accept text messages from someone *UNLESS* the user has called the number previously or unless the number exists in the contacts listing.

      Sorry. Too tired to be posting.

      Davak
      • Damn, I'm too tired to be reading, I didn't even see the difference until you pointed it out.
      • There are two different issues with text spam - whether the phone company sends it to your phone, and what the phone does with the message once it has it. Phone companies can't, and shouldn't, track your contacts listings, partly for privacy reasons, partly for scalability reasons, and partly because that would require all the phones and phone companies to implement some kind of standard protocol for exchanging that information. They _could_ track numbers you've called (and of course the billing system d
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gotacap (663393) *
      Personally I don't use SMS for texting from one phone to another, but as a notification feature from the net. I have setup a special e-mail forwarder on my domain to send to the e-mail to sms gateway for verizon (So that I didn't have to remember the sudomain of the gateway) and have several of my monitoring software set to send a short e-mail to that address whenever something goes down, also I've given the address of the forwarder to a few key members of my staff and family for them to quickly get a mess
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DdJ (10790)
      Actually, IMHO one of the main uses of text messages is to get messages from people you've never spoken to.

      For example, when I'm visiting a city I might send email to friends of mine in that city asking them to send me a text message with their phone number in it, so I can just hit the "respond" button to call them back rather than entering in the number myself. It's basically a way for other people to send their contact info directly to my phone.

      That option would be better than nothing, I suppose, but i
    • Easier Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)
      Providers should just not charge per message. It's ludicrous that you have to pay more for one shitty, short text message than you have to pay for a full minute of voice communication.
    • by Moderation abuser (184013) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:54PM (#6325352)
      Add layers of unnecessary complexity to phone software. Sure, that's the way to do it.

      The sane solution is to make the sender pay, just like they do in the rest of the world...

      • Make the sender pay with what? A $0.05 credit card charge? Mail them a bill? Require them to establish an account beforehand?

        If you make the sender pay, then you're severely reducing the usefulness of the service.

        • No, you add $0.10 to the sender's phone bill. Just like they do across the whole of Europe and Asia. It isn't rocket science.

          If you make the receiver pay and they get 200 spam SMS's per day how useful do you think the service will be? I can't see how it can possibly reduce the usefulness of the service if the sender pays.

          I live in the UK, it costs 5-10p per SMS sent depending on the service plan and network and I don't get any SMS spam at all. But you know what? Every single mobile phone is SMS enabled wh
          • No, you add $0.10 to the sender's phone bill.

            How are you supposed to do that if the sender doesn't send the SMS through the phone?

            If you're trying to tell me that you can't send SMS messages through methods other than through a phone, then you've already solved spam to begin with. No ones going to sit there typing 99966688#888333112233#3366117777#726#633#3 50,000 times.

            • by ColaMan (37550) on Monday June 30, 2003 @12:39AM (#6328540) Homepage Journal
              Telstra has a dial-up gateway to send SMS messages - you dial a number and get greeted with a little text menu that prompts you through the process of sending a SMS message. You get charged 10c or so for each message you send and you can (i think) send 4 messages at a time before needing to redial it.

              There's also a "bulk" version of the above with start and end codes etc, you can send an unlimited number of messages in one go, but you need software to do so. There's quite a few SMS messengers for PC's and modems around the place.

              As everyone else has said - get the sender to pay, or don't let them send messages. Easy as that. Most civilised ;-) countries have peering arrangements with other telco's for SMS messaging, same as for normal phone connections.

              • Not everyone has said that. I don't see any problem with SMS spam. Even if there are peering arrangements it's still not as bad as email as far as anonymity. If a peer starts forwarding lots of SMS spam to your users then you tell the peer to pay up or you drop the peering arrangement. The fact that you could force people to pay for sending SMS messages is exactly the reason that you don't have to. If you can get them to pay to send SMS messages, why not only make them pay if they send SMS spam, and ma
        • by FyRE666 (263011) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @03:42PM (#6326195) Homepage
          Make the sender pay with what? A $0.05 credit card charge? Mail them a bill? Require them to establish an account beforehand?

          If you make the sender pay, then you're severely reducing the usefulness of the service.

          Please tell me you're joking here! You're honestly asking how a mobile phone user could pay to send an SMS message (data) when they already pay to make calls (more data). Pretty simple really, isn't it? You bill them per message - it's what we all do in Europe and it makes SMS spam prohibitively expensive (not to mention the fact it's also illegal and carries huge penalties now).
    • Technological solutions to social problems deny the full possibility of technology.
    • Re:Easy Solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hether (101201)
      So how does it work for someone who sends the messages to a phone via email? Since I don't have a phone this is how I send my husband messages. I imagine it wouldn't say I'm sending from a particular phone number, so could he store my email addresses in their to compare against that?

      BTW, I see this email message to SMS message feature as both a benefit and a problem. The problem is that since with the account we have SMS messages can accept only 250 characters at a time, if someone accidentally (or to spam
    • What's the odds of getting messages from someone whom you have never spoken with on the phone previously?
      Pretty good [upoc.com], actually. I use UPOC to organize online gaming ("Hey, I'm playing on this server") and it works out really well.
    • That obviously wouldn't work with this [vtext.com]. Of course, your first 300 incoming messages with verizon are free. And I'm sure verizon would be willing to drop the charges if you told them you were sent these messages without your permission.

  • by garcia (6573) * on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:34PM (#6325231) Homepage
    I have found that the IM forwarding feature on some of the more recent betas of AOL Instant Messenger to be quite handy.

    GF could message me from AIM and I could call her back without her or I incurring any charges (incoming SMSs are free).

    So now I am going to get spammed by SMS because it has to be EXTREMELY easy to send to number@mobile.att.net. Great.

    What I am more worried about is my phone auto-answering. I was at work and heard a voice coming out of my phone. It was a telemarketer. The phone actually picked this call up by itself. Great. I had to call AT&T and have them investigate to remove the minute charges...
  • by jordandeamattson (261036) <jordandm@nOSpam.gmail.com> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:37PM (#6325249) Homepage
    In our family, we call it "honey messaging...", as in, "Honey will you pick up a gallon of milk on the way home?" or "Honey, remember that I love you..."

    SMS is great for sending short and sweet messages that requires no acknowledgement, and would be intrusive if sent.

    It really is instant messaging for cell phones...we love it. And having the ability to have things SMS to me (for example, updates on my flight from United) if fantastic.

  • simple solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by way2trivial (601132) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:37PM (#6325250) Homepage Journal
    charge the sender of all SMS's 5 cents
    give recipients a penny credit on their bill
    • Re:simple solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) *
      see, the cell phone companies don't want that. They want people to become addicted to SMS like they are addicted to Instant Messaging.

      They want SMSs to cost money so that they can make more.

      How many plans do you see have free SMS outgoing? Exactly.
      • Re:simple solution (Score:5, Informative)

        by rcs1000 (462363) * <rcs1000@@@gmail...com> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @01:28PM (#6325483)
        OK; the US phone system is completely fucked up.

        In England, you pay to send, not to recieve. At 5p a time, spamming is not economic. I have never recieved a spam sms.

        Now, in Houston, if my girlfriend dumped me, I could amuse myself for hours sending her 100s of SMSs, and racking up a great big for her. Wheeeeeee!
      • see, the cell phone companies don't want that. They want people to become addicted to SMS like they are addicted to Instant Messaging.

        They want SMSs to cost money so that they can make more.


        SMS's *cost* money in Europe .. FOR THE SENDER. And since all networks work together, millions of SMS are being transmitted daily(And the companies are raking it in)

        Of course new business models are cropping up where you do have to pay to recieve something... like TV stations sending you SMS news, sports etc (or MMS
    • The problem is that you can send SMS's for free via the internet. Do a google search for free SMS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:38PM (#6325255)
    Since it has been outlawed many years ago. I haven't received a single spam during the time I had a cell phone (4.5 years).
    • SMS was never fully exploited till the Internet boom. Now telcos are migrating from 2G to 2.5/3G networks. The hot thing in 3G+ is MMS, multimedia messaging, full color, video/audio messages.

      You know all those video phones, that you send a picture to buddies with? Tell me a spammer wouldnt love to send you MMS spam. The cost is SMS 10 cents vs MMS 40 cents.

      But those multi billion dollar networks cost allot to upgrade. Prices will drop later, but for now, early adopters pay the price. You see phones that
  • by chathamhouse (302679) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:45PM (#6325296) Homepage
    Having recently moved to Australia from Canada, I was:

    (1) Surprised to see that all inbound calls, text, and airtime were free on my mobile plan.
    (2) My outbound costs were ~6x greater than before (au$0.60/min vs cnd$0.10/min)
    (3) My text sending costs were lowered.
    (4) There was no charge for flagfall. But now fsck'ing Vodafone plans to change that. (Australia is one of the few countries where the cost of telecom seems to rise. Yech)

    From a quick look into the situation, you pay nothing to receive SMS everywhere but North America.

    But, you certainly pay to send SMS, which is a sure deterrent to Spam.

    Hence, switch to a sender-pays model. Problem solved if the cost to send exceeds expected revenue from spamming. If current e-mail response rates (1%) hold, it'll be a non-issue.

    I'd love to hear of countries outside Canada/US where there are charges to receive SMS though. That would blow this theory out of the water.
    • by Quizo69 (659678) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:59PM (#6325375) Homepage
      I have to say that the way it works here in Oz is great for the most part - the sender pays for the SMS message, not the receiver.

      The only change to this is if you SMS someone who is overseas and who is using AutoRoam (GSM rest-of-world-only, sorry USA). Then I can SMS that person and only pay for a local SMS, the overseas portion is billed to the person overseas at the time.

      I've never had any SMS spam (other than one or two SMSs from my phone provider which were borderline spam advertising new services but not overly disturbing).

      Now imagine if the sender pays system were implemented in email in some fashion.... we'd kill spam virtually overnight!

      The big issue with email is that, like P2P music trading, it's been free for so long that people don't want to go back to a paying system. So a solution to spam would need to involve return credits of some sort, so if I email my friend it costs me 1c but he can negate that automatically, so only those spammers whose emails aren't wanted don't get their money back. The devil's in the details though, but food for thought!

      Quizo69
    • Incoming text messages are free with my plan with Rogers ATT in Canada. Outgoing are $0.05 per message. Interestingly enough, the only SMS spam I receive is from Rogers itself.
  • by pytheron (443963) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:47PM (#6325309) Homepage
    The problem with SMS spam is that it is mostly scams being operated by shady businesses, urging you to text back to this number (premium charge, or course) to win a vapour-prize, or dial-this-number-to-win etc. With the advent of SMS gateways years ago, sending bulk SMS-spam from a computer is fairly easy. Since most operators need to accept traffic from others to ensure connectivity, getting rid of the problem would involve too much pain IMO. My money is on end users having to live with it.. just like we do in the UK. The only lesson to be learnt is to be extremely careful who you give your personal information to. Treat your mobile number like your personal email address.
    • Keeping your number secret doesn't protect you from the random number diallers. While I have had no SMS spam yet, I did receive a marketing phone call where the caller said that their computer had generated mobile numbers at random. This was an attempt to promote Orange's mobile network - and I was considering moving to Orange at the time. I wrote a letter of complaint to Orange and moved to Virgin Mobile instead.

      Personal SMS "firewalls" allowing people to reject messages except those meeting specific crite

  • by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:47PM (#6325311)
    Don't sign up for a mycingular.com account if you have a Cingular Wireless phone. I was (inaccurately) told by a Cingular operator that in order to get an email address (email -> SMS) for my phone I had to create an account on cingular.com.

    A few months later I got a spam text message on my phone from a third party advertiser targeting cingular wireless users. The only way that could have happened is if Cingular sold my info. I was fuming mad and wrote Cingular's division headquarters. I received a phone call in response to the letter, and the woman said I did not need a cingular.com account for Email -> SMS gateway, and the only reason to sign up for mycingular.com is to download ringtones and such. (and there are far better places to get those) She cancelled the cingular.com account for me on the spot.

    So beware if you do sign up at cingular.com - Cingular SPAMs you from third party advertisers!

    To Cingular's credit, they were very responsive after I sent the letter.

    Unfortunately though, I just got another junk message from Cingular themselves the other day, I can't even remember what they were advertising. If that happens again, it's one more nail in the coffin for them. Although I wonder if I'll get the same thing no matter what carrier I choose these days.

    I wonder how long it will take before spammers start bruteforcing phone numbers at mobile.mycingular.com. (that's the email -> phone gateway, yourphone#@mobile.mycingular.com)

    --Mike
  • by puntloos (673234) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:48PM (#6325312) Journal
    .. was (now its legislated a bit) that subscribing to SMS services like getting a SMS when your stock options change, when a new sex message has been generated for you (yes you can subscribe to that here) or when a new news headline happens, is that registring for it is easy enough. Just send "sex on" to number 6969, however turning these services off again was near-impossible. Unless you are creative enough to figure out that turning it off needed "no more sex please" to 9696

    Oh and every message they send you is $1.50 a piece.

    Anyway I can't really say I have ever received SMS spam, and I've had a GSM for 5+ years now. But just as with email spam, I have been conscious about not listing my number in phonebooks and not putting it into any casual 'please fill out this info' forms. I suggest you do the same :)
  • Oh Boy... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PS-SCUD (601089) <peternormanscott ... m ['aho' in gap]> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:50PM (#6325326) Journal
    I can't wait until I start getting ASCII porn messages on my phone.
  • Two notes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mgcsinc (681597) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:52PM (#6325334)
    I make two first-hand notes about SMS spam:

    1. I live in Europe, have had an SMS-capable cell phone for two years, and have never received a single piece of SMS spam. I credit this with never having given to any logo/ringtone website my phone number, and let me tell you, I much prefer not getting spam to having a nice ringtone.

    2. I have never understood the US SMS pricing scheme; the idea that one would have to pay for messages received completely baffles me, and I think it threatens to be the single largest reason that SMS spam will have such a profound effect on US consumers.
  • by shams42 (562402) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:52PM (#6325338)
    ...when you can just go after the companies that hire them.

    Now I know this might not work for international stuff like the Nigerian scam, but it should work for domestic spam. And though I don't yet recieve SMS spam, the vast majority of my e-mail spam seems to originate from domestic companies.

    I mean, in order to sell a product or a service, you have to provide your vict^h^h^h^h, customers with valid contact information so that they can purchase the product. Jon Q. Fucktard can't purchase herbal viagra or a "real university degree" without knowing where to send the check.

    Removing the financial incentive to hire spammers will be far more effective than trying to control it through technological means.
  • Spam techniques (Score:5, Informative)

    by BrookHarty (9119) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @12:53PM (#6325341) Homepage Journal
    I work for a wireless telco, and we have some techniques in place to guard against spammers. Nothing is 100% perfect, but we make it easier to catch.

    1. Using subscriber ID's that are 16 digit long, phone+random number. (To protect against that type of subscriber ID spamming, numerical increasing.)
    2. Intelligent email servers, that flag large requests and put them in queues that our NOC can monitor. Thou they have to trip the threshold.
    3. Corporate customers who use SMS for dispatch, use dedicated connections. (No public connection for spammers to exploit.)
    4. You can opt-out from telco originated spam, which is very few a day. (And opt-out works, not like spammers.)

    Nothing is perfect, SMS is just like any other messaging system that can be abused, IM and Email. You dont want to filter to hard and block valid requests, yet you dont want spammers to eat your bandwidth.

    I myself use SMS for trouble tickets, email alerts on systems, and escalation notifications. I finally directed most of my SMS to a pager instead of my phone. Dont want to mix IM's with work. And I can turn my pager off when I'm not on-call.

    -
    WC3+AVP+CS=Natural Selection [natural-selection.org] A free half-life mod.
    • You can opt-out from telco originated spam, which is very few a day.

      "very few a day"? You mean you send your customers multiple spams per day?
  • Won't tolerate it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scutter (18425) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @01:01PM (#6325390) Journal
    I absolutely refuse to tolerate any SMS spam on my cellphone. My gripe is not so much the cost as the inconvenince of having my phone go off every thirty seconds, then trying to sift through to figure out what's legitimate. The first time I get an SMS spam, I'm having the "feature" disabled on my phone since SMS will then become completely useless.
  • by jsse (254124)
    in China SMS spams are usually falling three categories:

    1) Broadcasting messages
    2) Bulk messages sent ad companies via your carrier
    3) Your boring friends

    1) could be easily stopped by turning off your mobile phone's ability in receiving broadcast messages(I'm sorry if you don't know how). 2) are sent from some advertising companies which signed deals with your mobile carrier such that you can't screen them off as in 1), but you can always ask your mobile carrier to get you off from their advertising b
  • by Bilange (237074) <{bilange} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @01:14PM (#6325435) Journal
    I've been told that cell phone numbers are supposed to be confidential in Canada (in other words: Foobar inc. won't be able to find your cell number (unless you write/say it everywhere to everyone, of course))

    I used SMS a bit with one friend of mine, and none of us recieved a single SMS spam.

    Someone else in this thread said to get rid of the spam from the source, not the destination - I think thats not totally true. Since SMS spam looks like e-mail spam so much, why dont mobile service providers add some software to block SMS spams before they send SMS to the user? Its a bit like Hotmail (or whatever e-mail service) spam filtering.

    While im at it, it would be nice to have a spam filtering web interface on your cell provider's website that acts a bit like hotmail custom filters, for example: "If text contains 'free viagra', do not send" and so on.

    My 2 canadian cents (thats $0.01 USD).
  • I have Cingular, which as far as I can tell, is the better of the service providers in my area. Greenville SC, where I live has the highest cell phone penetration per capita in the country [bizjournals.com]. This is due mainly to the fact that all the collection agencies/collection technologies are based out of Greenville for cell phones and because we have a totally free market; most areas in the country limit the number of carriers in particular region.

    As you could imagine, we also have a high concentration of people who

  • by alanw (1822) * <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @01:41PM (#6325574) Homepage
    I get about 1 SMS spam per month. I never give my mobile number out, so they are all just being dialled randomly. We have several avenues of complaint:

    ICSTIS [icstis.org], who regulate the premium rate telephone market - most of my SMS spams are shilling premium rate numbers, claiming that "I have won a prize" or that "someone likes me". ICSTIS have fined many spammers thousands of pounds.

    There is also the Advertising Standards Authority [asa.org.uk] who are now accepting complaints.

    It is also illegal to use an automated dialler, but the bunch of lazy jobsworths at the Data Protection Agency [dataprotection.gov.uk] can't be bothered to prosecute.


  • First, I have a cell phone. I've had various cell phones since 1995. It's not some new whiz-bang toy to me. My current PCS phone service is simply that. Phone service, voicemail, 3-way calling, and a few other things. No SMS, no Wireless Web. The only feature I want right now is a modem attachment for my laptop.

    Now, about the article. Did anyone else get the feeling that turning off a cell phone would be the end of the world? This SMS spam thing might be good thing. I won't have to listen to so many damn
  • All the companies have to do is put a term in their EULA that the text messaging system is not to be used for any sort of commercial bulk mailing, then sue the brains out of any and all spammers they can track down. They don't need any new law.
    • That's nice... except the spammers would always find a service provider to use, so long as there was money to be made for providing them with one. When is an EULA (although EULA was the wrong term anyway) or other license agreement signed with the receiving provider?
  • by jchristopher (198929) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @04:53PM (#6326507)
    Cell phone companies are trying to stem the spam flood before it starts, worried that users will turn off their phones, thus denying providers revenue.

    Yeah, right! It would be NICE if we only had to worry about true "spammers" sending unsolicited SMS. In my market (Southern California) Cingular is spamming its own users with marketing messages! Talk about stupid business decisions.

    I cancelled my SMS service and let them know why. Cingular claims it's "opt-out", but strangely three different methods they recommend (return SMS, phone call to CSR, website) have failed to get me off their list.

    Oh well at least my voicemail still works. My contract is up soon... maybe some readers can recommend which providers do and don't spam their own users?

  • Dose of Facts... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SlimFastForYou (578183) <konsolemanNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:11PM (#6326590) Journal
    God Bless America! Please??? She needs it!

    Remember:
    - Many plans bill you $0.10 per SMS message.
    - You can send free SMS messages from the carrier's web site.
    - Spammers can use programs to post hundreds, perhaps thousands of SMS send message requests to carrier web sites.
    - If a spammer sends 1,000 SMS messages from AT&T's web site per minute, AT&T makes $6,000/hour from that spammer.

    Seems like a win/win system, doesn't it? Spammers get to spam for cheap, and your carrier makes big bucks as well. If corporate interests aren't at stake, why should U$ courts become involved or even care?

    Best part of it all, some phones cannot even outright disable SMS messaging, and phone reps can't even turn it off. Another corporate Gotcha!
    • Gosh, that's cynical. At any rate, the day I'm forced to *pay* for spam by my cell phone carrier is the day I cancel my service. Plus, I will refuse to pay the fee, and I will make my disgust known as far up the corporate hierarchy as possible. And I think -- I hope -- that's what the carriers are afraid of: thousands of customers abruptly cancelling service and complaining. It's pretty expensive in any competitive industry to get new customers, which is why companies are often willing to bend over back
  • T-Mobile Has Filters (Score:3, Informative)

    by IHateEverybody (75727) on Sunday June 29, 2003 @05:44PM (#6326753) Homepage Journal
    I got my first SMS spam a couple of months ago and promptly complained to T-Mobile. The rep pointed me to their text messaging [t-mobile.com] which includes some simple spam filters. I haven't gotten any SMS spam since.
  • Why not simply attach a small bit of legistlation that says that if you put a cell phone number on the donotcall list that you should receive data as well as voice spam?
  • Knee Jerk? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by August_zero (654282)
    I can only vaguely understand the profitability of spam mail. I suppose it has something to do with people clicking on one of the links inside the mail, and then getting routed to about 100 porn sites that then give the original sender money for the free hits etc.

    But how are phone spams ever going to be half as useful on the same scale? They can't really send links, and even if they did, its a damn phone. Even with browser capabilities the whole mojo of the thing is all wrong.

    I can see something akin
  • "I just feel disgusted," Merino said. "I said that I wasn't ever going to turn off my phone, but I did this morning. It was annoying."

    That will not help her, since SMS messages are buffered and will be delivered when the phone is turned back on.

    ObNelson: Ha-ha!

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