In December 2010 after so much frustration complaining with Telecom Operators over phone SPAM (Unsolicited Messages), I did post the message below on the I-Network Mailing list about a possible solution.
This suggestion was based on the Australian experience where the Government actually has a law on this problem of unsolicited phone calls and messages. The Do Not Call Register Act 2006 outlaws telemarketing activities targeting phone subscribers listed in the Do Not Call Registry.
I am glad to note that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) published a notice in the leading news papers today the 10th of November 2014 on the Do Not Disturb (DnD) register requiring all Telecommunications service providers, Information and Content providers to implement an opt out method using 196.
What is a Do Not Call / Do Not Disturb registry? It is a registry that allows the phone user to opt out of telemarketing messages and calls addressed to your phone number.
Are you fed up of messages like this?
Do you wonder where such messages keep coming from and how they get your numbers? Well, if you attend wedding meetings or fill in your number on the numerous lists that are compiled at the entry points of most Government buildings among others, then you can’t survive such consequences. Some content providers have made it a habit to maintain databases of numbers from their clients long after the services have been terminated and sold off that to other telemarketers.
How does the Do Not Disturb (DnD) Registry work?
A user that wants to stop receiving unwanted messages simply punches the code *196# and sends. The service provider then automatically gets that number registered onto the DnD registry. As simple as that. As a matter of fact, I have received messages from MTN and UTL in the past week telling me about this feature and I immediately activated my numbers. As I write, I have some sanity in my inbox.
Should we expect registration to stop all telemarketing calls?
I would say not exactly. While it might reduce these calls by close to 90%, you will still have calls coming through from some service providers who you subscribe to like your bankers, Insurance, pub, school among others. So when that stray message comes through, it is important to first establish your relationship with the sender before filing a complaint.
Currently, there are a number of rogue content providers out there who are treating the business like the Wild West and flaunt any available rules to carelessly send out telemarketing messages without shame. These definitely will continue with their habits but the onus will be upon us to work with the service providers to weed them out. There however is an association that brings together the professional sane thinking Content providers called Wireless Application Services Providers Association of Uganda and I encourage all of us consumers to use them as a point of contact when we have issues to do with unsolicited content. I once was being spammed by a member of this association and on raising the issue, their member promptly acted.
What hasn’t been made clear though is the process of delisting from this registry in case one would like to resume receiving those telemarketing messages and calls. UCC needs to come up with this too so that it doesn’t turn out to be the one way move that is appears to be currently.
UCC also doesn’t spell out the kind of reprisals the errant operators will face once they do not operationalise the directive and while it may still be a work in progress, as consumers we are eager to know the kind of punishments our tormenters are going to face. This is an area of serious concern because of the abuse many are suffering starting with SPAM from the Telecom companies. Airtel and MTN have been known for their notoriety with the telemarketing calls.
One of the biggest losers are likely going to be the SMS vendors whose business plan rotates around sending mass messages for wedding meetings and various functions. They shall be expected to comply and judging by how many people are already fed up with such messages, the DnD registry will cut down on their revenues significantly.
The others are the johnny come lately sms jobs cheats, news vendors and love doctors who lure people into a subscription and then start charging them for receiving messages.
Well done UCC and we look forward to better times as consumers.