According to Steve Wunker, UK country director of the newly formed Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), wireless spam is not yet a major problem in Britain, but this could change if operators fail to continue their policy of taking a "tough line" on persistent spammers.
"In the UK, we get only two complaints a week about wireless spamming, but there is a very significant problem in Japan and this is because many of their operators didn't take a stance against spamming from the very start," he told ElectricNews.Net.
An example of such a stance towards spamming was that taken by US wireless company Verizon Wireless last year. In what was regarded as the first lawsuit of its kind, Verizon sued Acacia National Mortgage Company following complaints from its customers. It was found that Acacia sent thousands of SMS messages to Verizon's customer base every day. A settlement was eventually reached between the two parties that resulted in Acacia being forced to stop sending repeated, unsolicited commercial text messages to Verizon's clients.
Wunker also said that the MMA welcomed the recent decision by the European Commission to make it mandatory for wireless marketing to be opt-in, but he warned that it is unlikely to put-off spammers.
"Sending marketing message over SMS is attractive to businesses because you get a very high response rate and it costs much less than sending a letter, so, unfortunately, spammers will always exist," he commented. However, Wunker added that major companies would not be interested in spam because it would damage their brand.
The MMA has a code of practice for its members, which include Orange, BT Cellnet, Freeserve, AOL, Nokia and DoubleClick. The code forbids members from getting involved in spamming, says that all wireless marketing should be permission-based, and that simple opt-out clauses should be offered to all mobile users who don't want to receive message or promotions.
The MMA was formed on Thursday following the merger of the US-based Wireless Advertising Association and the European-based Wireless Marketing Association. The two organisations said they were coming together to further develop the mobile marketing industry and also to protect the interests of consumers and industry players. The MMA also said that it is currently investigating the possibility of establishing an Irish branch.
The MMA can be found at http://www.mmaglobal.com.