Mobile phone firms EE, O2, Three, and Vodafone have joined forces with the Information Commissioner’s Office to tackle the scourge of nuisance texts and calls, in a new crackdown backed by the DMA.
The move sees the four adopt a spam reporting service run by the mobile industry trade body GSMA, and powered by Cloudmark, which provides a worldwide clearing house of messaging threats and misuse. It also enables operators to analyse spam attack patterns, identify the sources of attacks and shut down the sources as a result.
UK mobile phone users are able to report nuisance text messages through a free short code: ‘7726’ or ‘SPAM’. These are aggregated, and analysed, providing operators with important details about the origin and size of the attack.
Operators can then to share intelligence in realtime to ensure that an attack detected on one network can be quickly isolated and prevented on others. Armed with this insight, mobile operators can block and cut off the senders of spam. The GSMA is also working on the launch of a similar service for nuisance calls.
ICO head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said: “The real-time information about spam attacks we are now receiving from the UK operators is helping us to quickly identify breaches in the Privacy of Electronic Communication Regulations (PECR), track down perpetrators and issue monetary penalties against them.”
GSMA chief executive John Hoffman added: “Increasing numbers of consumers are victims of spam and mobile network operators are working hard defending against these threats.
“The GSMA spam reporting service provides operators with a tool to measure the extent of fraud and phishing and provides the insight needed to address sophisticated messaging threats that could harm users. By working closely with the ICO, the UK’s operators are making it more difficult for spammers and fraudsters to target mobile phone users in this country.”
Welcoming the combined effort, DMA chief of operations Mike Lordan said: “We’re pleased that serious efforts are being taken by all mobile operators and the ICO to tackle the persistent problem of spam text.
“Text spam causes inconvenience and annoyance to millions of people and harms the legitimate mobile marketing industry, which is worth hundreds of millions of pounds a year to the UK economy. The ICO must continue to use its enforcement powers to stamp out spam, and this real-time reporting tool should make it easier and quicker to identify the rogue companies responsible.
“The proposed extension of this service to cover nuisance calls is also good news for consumers and the legitimate telemarketing industry. Making it easier for consumers bothered by nuisance calls will significantly help the regulator to identify and punish wrongdoers and deter others from doing so.”
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