UAE TRA unveils anti-SMS spam policy
UAE telecoms operators obliged to let customers opt out of receiving SMS marketing messages
The UAE TRA has confirmed that it has put in place a new policy to cut down on the amount of spam received in the UAE.
The initial policy will focus on mobile SMS spam, with both UAE operators, Etisalat and du, required to gain consent from users before sending them marketing messages.
HE Mohamed Al Ghanim, director general of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) said: "After receiving many complaints from customers about random marketing SMS messages, the TRA decided to introduce this new policy to curb the annoyance of such messages cause.
"The Policy will be enforced during July 2010. All consumers will receive messages from their service providers requesting their consent with regards to receiving marketing SMS. Clients will not receive commercial SMS unless they approve it. Approvals are stored and retained either in paper or electronically for later review as per the Policy requirements," Al Ghanim added.
Customers will be able to file complaints with the operators if they continue to receive spam messages, although the complaints procedures, and the penalties for businesses that continue to send unsolicited messages or for operators that fail to block such messages, has not been disclosed.
Authorized marketing SMS will be confined to the hours between 07:00 and 21:00 UAE time, to prevent further inconvenience to customers.
The new regulation, the Unsolicited Electronic Communications Regulatory Policy, came into effect at the end of June, although neither Etisalat nor du responded to requests from itp.net as to their readiness to implement the policy.
du responded with a statement that was "further calibrating these efforts in alignment with the regulatory framework for telecommunications in the UAE to enhance customer choice", but as of today, du is still sending unsolicited SMS to its customers for a World Cup competition, without offering an opt out.
In a separate statement, Etisalat announced that it will now allow subscribers to block marketing messages from Etisalat, and planned to allow the blocking of third party subscribers in future, although this service is not available yet.
The policy relates to all electronic communications, although the TRA says that it will focus first on mobile SMS, covered in the policy by Annex (1) to the Unsolicited Electronic Communications Regulatory Policy: Mobile Spam. Operators were supposed to have submitted policies related to opting in or out of receiving SMS marketing messages by 31st January 2010.
The policy also states that operators may not withhold services if customers do not give consent to receiving marketing messages.