Saudi regulator to fine spammers

CITC is threatening to impose fines of up to $1.3 million for companies that persist in sending unwanted SMS messages.

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By  Michele Howe Published  September 19, 2007

The Saudi ICT regulator is warning mobile spammers they face fines of up to $1.3 million (Saudi Riyal 5 million) if they don't stop sending unwanted SMS messages, according to a report by a local newspaper.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has warned companies they will be fined or could even have their business lines cancelled if they continue to bombard mobile subscribers with uninvited SMSs, the Arab News reported.

The warning, which the report said was published in local newspapers, comes after mobile users complained to the CITC of receiving a deluge of SMS messages at the start of the holy month of Ramadan.

"We have already stopped a number of violating companies and imposed the stated penalty on them," CITC spokesman Sultan Al-Malek said, according to the report. "These companies are very easy to be tracked. I urge people not to respond to these messages, which are basically made to extort their money."

More than 80% of people have received unwanted marketing messages on their mobiles, according to a global study on mobile spam by the University of St Gallen in Switzerland in 2005.

Mobile marketing is becoming an increasingly attractive means for companies looking for new ways to reach their target audiences.

"Augmenting the mobile value-added services industry with the classical direct marketing activities of customer database management, creative, and campaign services management instantly creates an altogether new industry for mobile marketing," Gabriel Chahine, principal with Booz Allen Hamilton said recently.

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