Mobile Operators Spam Has to Stop

If you live in Egypt you have probably received numerous unsolicited commercial advertisements through SMS. This has got to be the worst form of advertising and it has to stop.

You might think that the phone numbers that receive these messages are picked randomly, or through curated lists of phone numbers like what happens with spam email, but it’s much more than that. This service is actually provided by mobile network operators in Egypt. They sell your information to advertisers to send you spam SMS based on your location, the value of you phone bills, your interests – which you are asked about when you open your online account – and other criteria. So advertisers are not only spamming you with unwanted messages, but they are also doing it through the mobile network operators, which you as a subscriber never gave them permission to sell your information or to send you unsolicited promotional SMS.

It’s not like mobile network operators are providing you a free service that they have to somehow cover its cost with an alternative source of revenue. You pay monthly subscription fees and service charges to the mobile network operator and you have the right to demand this to stop. This kind of messages should be opt-in, if they exist at all, and as far as I know there’s currently no way to opt-out of it.

In the United States, EU and Australia SMS spam is criminalised and violators may face substantial costs which has reached up to $175 in some cases for each spam SMS sent. Operators like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Spring in the US allow you to report any spam SMS you receive by forwarding it to a number. Reported spammers are then disconnected from the network and faced with legal charges.

I can’t see this being criminalised in Egypt anytime soon as the mobile network operators could easily lobby the government out of making such rules and regulations, but at least we should get a way to opt-out of it.

What are your thoughts on SMS spam. Does it really bother you? And what can we do about it? Leave a comment below.

Update

Turns out that on Vodafone you can call customer support and request to be unsubscribed from all the promotional messages and calls sent by Vodafone. This only solves a small part of the problem, but still worth doing.

Not sure if this is available on other networks or not.

  • Khaled Gamal

    What’s more irritating, is SPAM that promotes the operators’ services. I have been getting messages promoting offers that have nothing to do with me, such as new discounted rates for international calls, which tells me a lot about their CSR management, as I have never dialled an international number!

    However, after months of spamming, Etisalat sent me a SMS 2 days ago saying ‘Call *011# for 2 piastres to know the offer of the day.’, so I’m hoping this was the end of it. It’s mostly cost control on their side, but still.

  • The Laila Hassaballa

    I completely agree with you! It’s insane! Another problem is that even when you send a text back to cancel, you have to send another confirmation text about that, and they charge you for both messages even though you haven’t allowed ads from the very start!

    What can we do?

    Sign an online petition and write about it in numerous blogs until it spreads in the media?
    A Twitter hashtag planned to go viral against all service providers?

    Even if everyone does that, there’s no guarantee unless there is a law to stop them legally.

  • HeshamMegid

    I agree. Promoting operators’ services that way is very irritating. Vodafone even takes this up a notch by doing prerecorded telemarketing calls. These are truly the worst, and if you reject the call, which I usually do, you’ll get it again at another random time.

  • HeshamMegid

    The original intention behind this blog post was to start a petition, but then I felt it won’t go anywhere.