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Newly formed MMA helps counter m-spam 
Friday, January 11 2002
by Andrew McLindon

The spread of wireless spam can be countered if operators and marketing companies
continue to enforce standards, the Mobile Marketing Association has said. 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

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 HREF="http://www.mmaglobal.com">http://www.mmaglobal.com.

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