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Spam Government The Courts News

Aussie Regulator Comes Down On SMS Spam 76

Posted by timothy
from the tastes-like-long-pig dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Australian Communications and Media Authority has commenced legal proceedings in the Federal Court against several local and international companies over allegedly unsolicited SMS spam. It's the first time the regulator has used its powers under the Spam Act to pursue an alleged SMS spammer through the Courts. Other companies have been fined or committed to an 'enforceable undertaking' to avoid this type of action (although these are not without issue). Another firm accused of SMS spam accused the regulator of being overzealous after it received a formal warning. The regulator appears to have instituted a crackdown on the premium mobile content industry in recent months, culminating in this latest action."
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Aussie Regulator Comes Down On SMS Spam

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  • Die Spammers!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mfh (56)

    Find them guilty and kill them with fire.

    Now of course if these are run of the mill companies trying to promote their products by simply telling you about it on the phone, then they are telemarketers and technically not spammers, so they will likely walk away from this, unless justice exists?

    Nah, it's too easy to doubt justice, with all the evidence that it does not exist. Of course these defendants will come up with a great defense and cost taxpayers more money than they will lose from the publicity genera

    • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:40AM (#26433805) Homepage Journal

      Find them guilty and kill them with fire.

      No one expects the Spammer Inquisition!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mark72005 (1233572)
      It doesn't cost you money to answer (and hang up on) a telemarketer. And there's a no-call list in most states that works pretty well.

      It costs me money every time someone spams me with a text message.

      Can you imagine if every spam email that came into your account cost you 10 cents?

      I hope they stop this before it becomes as bad as spam email.
      • Re:Die Spammers!! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mfh (56) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:00PM (#26434153) Journal

        First, I recommend everyone get a plan with free SMS.

        Still, I agree with the parent.

        Can you imagine if every spam email that came into your account cost you 10 cents?

        Since killing them with fire is not enough of a punishment for these spammers, according to mark72005, I propose we find some other cruel way to kill these spammers for their horrible act of racking up unwanted charges for text messages.

        We could nail their fingers to a wall for one month per SMS they sent out? So for every 1mil messages... that's a finger, and with the time added, considering most of these guys spammed well over 9000 people... they are really gonna be in for a world of hurt, until they eventually die, hanging from their fingers.

        AND THEN we burn them.

        • Re:Die Spammers!! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:11PM (#26434335) Homepage

          First, I recommend everyone get a plan with free SMS.

          No. No way.

          I have a land-line with a bottom-basement plan that suits my needs just fine (with the occasional exception of missing call-waiting when trying to get through to my wife). We have a cell phone that we pay $15/month for (150 minutes - WAY more than we need). When we accept a text, it costs us $.05 (and usually isn't worth that). If I could find a cheaper plan, I'd take it - But no way am I signing up for a more expensive plan just so that I don't have to pay for people to send me crap I don't want without incurring additional expense.

          Also, I'm on board with the fire thing, but nailing fingers is more time than I'm willing to dedicate to torture. Let's just stick to killing them with fire - Simple, cheap, clean, and effective.

          • by mfh (56)

            Also, I'm on board with the fire thing, but nailing fingers is more time than I'm willing to dedicate to torture. Let's just stick to killing them with fire - Simple, cheap, clean, and effective.

            Well if you insist. :)

            Seriously though, some tougher penalties are needed for spammers, but we'd never find the guy to get the money. Also, for every spammer you kill, you create a vacuum for someone to take their place. Something needs to be done to shut these organizations down from within, and damage the skillset

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by icebrain (944107)

            Let's just stick to killing them with fire - Simple, cheap, clean, and effective

            I prefer lobbing nukes from orbit. The fireworks are more impressive, and there's a greater chance of success.

          • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @01:00PM (#26435231)
            For the information of Merkins out there: here in Australia, we don't pay anything to receive calls or SMSs. This only happens when we're roaming internationally, where the cost of calls can be nearly doubled as the telco slugs both caller and callee. Vodafone is a particular case in point.
            • by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @03:43PM (#26438091)

              Unless you receive a message from a premium SMS number. Then they charge you $6 a message and send multiple messages within a minute to slam high charges onto your bill.

              They supposedly need consent, but many rely on phone numbers entered into websites and general deception as ways to get 'consent'.

              • by simmee (1180333)
                In Australia, you can get your telco (yes, even Telstra will do this) to block all premium SMS being sent to your phone. I did this for myself (I'm with Optus) and a friend, who was getting premium SMS messages that he did not ask for every Sunday morning starting at 7am!
                • I tried to do this with Optus and they said they couldn't do it. They said they could block all SMS - but not selectively block premium SMS. How did you manage to get them to do it? Surprisingly Telstra can and will block just premium SMS but most don't.

                  Anyway, given the money Optus make out of premium SMS it is unsurprising that they refuse to selectively block it. technical problems my arse.

            • A "merkin" is a patch of fake hair used by prostitutes to cover venereal diseases. It is not another term for someone from the USA. I'm not sure who your post is relevant to pussy-wigs.
              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by DuranDuran (252246)

                Easy there, mate. You don't see us getting out of our pram when someone calls us 'Aussies'.

              • A "merkin" is a patch of fake hair used by prostitutes to cover venereal diseases. It is not another term for someone from the USA. I'm not sure who your post is relevant to pussy-wigs.

                Far be it from me to cast nasturtiums on the soi-disant "American sense of humour" (if one might forgive the oxymoron), but I thought that was a pretty obvious hook waiting for a bite.

                But your definition could use a bit more poetry. I prefer Dr. Johnson's more succinct "counterfeit hair for women's privy parts".

                You will f
            • by Dan541 (1032000)

              Americans get shit service on everything.

              I don't understand why people complain about phone service over here, at least we have service. Much of America is still on landlines and probably still using rotary telephones.

          • I think the way should be this: Charge those who send sms rather than those who receive. That way, if the spammer is intending to send you spam, first he cant charge your bill and he pays double the charge (charge for sending and charge for you receiving it). So, things will get double costly for him. Second, if you dont like the spam you can delete it anyways. That way the game becomes much more level playing field. The whole notion that someone can send you sms and rake up your bill is something that I h
        • <quote><p>First, I recommend everyone get a plan with free SMS.</p></quote>

          Well, I don't want to pay $10 or $20 extra for that. and I shouldn't have to because spammers are going to send me text messages.

          Text messaging is the biggest ripoff on the earth, what they charge you to transmit data per byte is just outrageous.

          I don't think I should be forced to pay for it to accommodate advertising.
        • by hwyhobo (1420503)

          First, I recommend everyone get a plan with free SMS.

          Hell no. I am not paying so that a bunch of lowlifes can drown a few important SMSes I may get in their crap for free.

          As for the penalty, there is no redeeming value to spammer's life, none. 9mm cartridges are plentiful and cheap from military surplus (US $0.12 per round when purchased in large lots).

          And that applies to email spammers as well. I will volunteer for the first few.

        • by rickb928 (945187)

          Burn them horribly. Any suitable body part will do.

          This can be done several times, though generally it will only be required twice.

          We can only kill them once, and they will not then testify to others of the error of their ways.

          Though taking a finger off each time appeals to me.

          Not really, but it does tittilate my sense of justice, as self-centered and absolute as it is...

      • Re:Die Spammers!! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:05PM (#26434241) Homepage

        It doesn't cost you money to answer (and hang up on) a telemarketer. And there's a no-call list in most states that works pretty well.

        Well, kind of. I value my time at home and when I'm doing something that I don't enjoy, I expect to be compensated (pay check, home improvement, if-I-don't-clean-this-shit-up-my-wife-will-leave-me, etc.) Just because I don't see a new number on my phone bill doesn't mean I'm not sacrificing something of value.

        Since the don't-call-list, I've received only a handful of telemarketing calls but still get political, charity, and survey calls. My typical response is to ask the caller whether they're volunteering their time to call me. If they are, I'll give them a couple of minutes to make their pitch (if it's a political call and the person is motivated and well-informed, I may talk for a while if I have nothing going on - charities I prefer to research myself rather than take the word of a random caller). If they're being paid (typically the case for surveys and mixed results for charity/political), I ask why they expect me to spend time on the call for free when they won't. Ends the call pretty effectively.

      • by Aladrin (926209)

        20 cents, for me. It was just raised from 15.

        My solution was to completely disable text messaging (and picture, and email) for my account. Currently, SPAM wasn't the problem... Friends were. No matter how many times I told them it costs me money, they still thought it was worth spending my money to text message me something they could have told me for free by voice or in person. Or by email.

      • by fugue (4373)

        It doesn't cost you money to answer (and hang up on) a telemarketer. And there's a no-call list in most states that works pretty well.

        Don't be absurd. "Time is money" (of course time is really much more valuable than money), and being bothered costs mental energy (also more valuable than money). Just because no corporation is billing you for answering your phone doesn't mean that the effort of doing so is without cost.

    • by cellurl (906920)
      Hi, my name is Jim (age 51).
      Is there any way to block SMS based on sender?
      Like a caller-id block??

      I want to buy a phone that quizzes the sender somehow. Fail=no-SMS.
      • by biocute (936687)

        I want to buy a phone that quizzes the sender somehow. Fail=no-SMS.

        That's probably the fastest way to stop SMS, all SMS. Imagine every time your friend wants to SMS you, your phone will ask something like 1+2=?.

        And this method might actually cost the recipient (more)money. Usually receiving SMS is free, but if you want to quiz, you're sending something out and that's going to cost something.

        I think the best option so far is to get an unlimited SMS plan, so we leave the "cost" part to the provider.

        Then go fi

        • Re:Die Spammers!! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jank1887 (815982) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:25PM (#26434593)

          that itself is only a better suggestion if you know where I can get an unlimited SMS plan that doesn't cost more. (or at least an unlimited received SMS plan).

          If I'm paying more, it is not leaving the cost to the provider. I'm picking up the tab for the cost, and providing the provider with a profit margin that they have incentive to maximize without passing me any of the benefit.

          The providers absolutely love your suggestion. An extra $5 per month on every contract they have would do wonders for their bottom line. I'd rather do something else with that $60/year, thanks. No good.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnick (1211984)

        We've got a plan from Net10 [net10.com] (not for everybody - It's $.10/minute at a minimum average of $15/month or so). When we accept a SMS message, it costs $.05 but we do get to see who sent it before committing to reading it - Declining to read it saves your nickel. Not exactly what you're asking for, but it does allow us to reject the trash without paying for messages or signing up for unlimited SMS.

    • Yes I agree with you mfh and I understand that those advertising agencies or companies or even individuals perhaps can get away with it providing they can show (prove?) that whatever product or service they are sending you to can be genuinely shown or designed to be of interest to the particular indivual(s) being sent to.

      What disturbs me more is this use of "allegedly". In a court or tribunal etc, nothing would happen punishment, fine or sanctions-wise unless or until proved spam or malicious intent etc e

    • by mjwx (966435)

      Find them guilty and kill them with fire

      Or better yet, fire them out of a cannon, we still have cannon here in Australia. Followed by a volley of grapeshot, then a volley of salt. After that we should send someone in to make sure they are fully dead (a mostly dead spammer is still partly alive, which is unacceptable).

  • standard. I've received spam texts from about 3 sources, several per day from each, since the first day I got my phone/number.

    I think its possible to call verizon (fun), and have them blacklisted for me but from what I've heard its not even free to do so (even if it is, the customer services call probably takes 30 mins).

    If I didn't have an unlimited text plan, every spam msg would cost me. For those without such aplan, the ability block a source *from the phone* is necessary.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If I didn't have an unlimited text plan

      Unlimited text plans usually aren't. My stepdaughter's boyfriend has 'unlimited text' through Verizon, and he ended up paying per message one month. Unlimited usually means 1,000 text messages or so a month.

      • by Ragzouken (943900)
        Won't trading standards have something to say about this blatant lie then?
      • by areusche (1297613)
        I will have to say you're incorrect sir since I have sent/received almost 1,500 text messages last month on my unlimited text/pix/flix plan. I have received no extra charge other then the standard rate.
        • Right. That's Verizon's 'premium' unlimited plan, which is like $10 extra. They also have an 'unlimited' plan that's $5 extra. That plan is anything but unlimited. As always, you have to read the fine print.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ad0n (1171681)
      i've been told i could text the words "stop" to any sender and it would block.

      I am with Fido, here in Canada (Ontario).

      Of course, the "stop" message costs against my texting quota (i'm not on an unlimited package). I haven't been overrun with rogue SMS so I can't comment on whether this is an effective deterrent.

      a>
    • by Aladrin (926209)

      I use T-Mobile. All the 'spam' so far has come from my friends, except for maybe 3 messages in about 3 years.

      Still, it's $.20 per message, so I decided to cut it out.

      I spent about 20 minutes figuring out -how- to disable it via their website, and another 5 setting it.

      Verizon may have something similar.

      • I was on Verizon for years as all of my family and majority of friends were also on it (the in-network calling was nice). It took me about 10 minutes on the phone with them to block all SMS. I still got one or two a month at cost from Verizon themselves; their official line was that they were allowed to bill me for their advertising. After 3 years of this and timed conveniently with my wife's phone going out of contract, we dumped them.

        With T-Mobile, when I was setting up service with them the blackberry su

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mjwx (966435)

      If I didn't have an unlimited text plan, every spam msg would cost me

      In Australia its the other way around, sender pays, with telephones sender always pays. I don't understand why you yanks have the receiver pays system, it seems backwards and an invite for abuse.

      Admittedly in AU, the only spam I get is from my telco, whom I have called and said in no uncertain terms "stop". They still test my patience every now and then but its down from 1 per week to 1 per quarter. Spammers likely get mobile numbers

  • Painful death to the people doing the actual spamming, and complete dissolution of any company caught using spam for advertising.

    • If you can't catch them or they're outside your jurisdiction, then your "solution" can't be implemented. So, what's your plan b?
      • by nurb432 (527695)

        Vigilantes have no limits on jurisdiction.Also, if you don't follow common laws, you can find anyone.

        Sure its extreme, but its needed.

  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @12:44PM (#26434963)

    Do unsolicited gifts laws apply in the us? about being forced to pay for in coming texts? Has any one taking that to court?

    This is like a COD that they say it hear YOU PAY NOW! You don't want it WE SHIPPED to you so YOU PAY.

    If UPS, FEDEX, or the USPS tried the same thing the courts likely kill that off fast and what if your only choice was pay for all in coming and what you send even if you send very little or no shipping at all and the only way is to pay for a package deal that costs much more then you need to pay and comes with way more then you use per month.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Do unsolicited gifts laws apply in the us? about being forced to pay for in coming texts? Has any one taking that to court?

      This is like a COD that they say it hear YOU PAY NOW! You don't want it WE SHIPPED to you so YOU PAY.

      Nobody's forced to have a cellphone, though.

      (Having said that, nobody's forced to have a postal address to which Fedex may deliver, but anyone trying to use that as an excuse would be considered to be nuts).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bios_Hakr (68586)

      I think the US is the only place where you pay for *incoming* communications. I've been in several European and Asian countries; all of them had free SMS and free incoming calls.

  • Replace it with Jabber. No wait, Jabber with OpenPGP on top. Not signed by an identity I can WoT to: bit bucket. Signed by an identity I can WoT to: reputation lookup, then display or bit bucket.
  • Posted by timothy ...
    from the tastes-like-long-pig dept.

    TMI, Timothy.

  • Hi. FYI, in Europe we don't pay to receive SMS within a state. So from my point of view, this "SMS spam problem" is a non-problem. Have people sending SMS pay. End of story, move on.

    Yet to be honest, this is still a reap off. SMSing in Switzerland costs 0.10euro/SMS. Head of Swiss mobile phone operators society said on radio RSR the cost for providers is actually 0.02Euro/SMS. No one is naive here: if that is the publicly acknowledged cost, that means - rough un-sourced estimate - real cost may well be 0.00

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