Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Solving the Junk SMS problem

Junk SMSes are the biggest source of irritation for a mobile user in India today. Every alternate SMS is a solicitation SMS trying to sell you a service or a product. The government has tried setting up the National Do Not Call (NDNC) registry without much success. Now they are mooting a National Do Call (NDC) registry. Which means by default no mobile subscriber can be contacted by the bulk advertisers. Only if you subscribe to certain mailing lists can the bulk advertisers send you focused SMS. I am not sure how much of a success will this have provided it even sees the light of the day. The bulk advertisers are fighting it tooth and nail.

 

What is the problem here?

1.       One, side the consumer is complaining that he/she is receiving unsolicited SMS.

2.       Two, the cost of sending a SMS is less than 1 paisa for the telecom provider. Hence he is providing bulk SMS packages to advertisers

3.       Three, a lot of places where you provide your mobile numbers with a sense of trust are also doubling up as aggregation points where the collector is reselling these mobile number lists for a commission.

4.       Fourth, the customer has no way of reacting to a junk SMS except to register in the NDNC; that too without any palpable effect

5.       Fifth, there is no law that imposes punishment in the form of penalty/ fines on either the telecom provider or the bulk advertiser today

 

If you look at the multi-faceted problem, you suddenly realize that there are 2-3 alternate ways to tackle with it

1.       Impose hefty penalties on Telecom providers who allow their network to be used to deliver unsolicited SMS

2.       Give the mobile customer more control.

a.       Give him / her the ability to report SMS abuse

b.      Provide customer a mailbox to reroute all SMS from unknown numbers as emails. SMS will be delivered over the phone only after the customer white-lists them

c.       Create one time codes that that customers can pass onto agencies to which they need to provide mobile numbers that entitles them to SMS the customer a fixed number of times.

3.       Crack down on small time phone number aggregators who sell self created lists to advertisers

 

It is only when you look at the problem from multiple dimensions that you see multiple approaches to tackle the problem.

 

Your ideas are welcome !!

 

 

 

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