Spam leaves phone users speechless (4)

10:28, April 11, 2011      

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Calls for action

"Obtaining a license means you are allowed to send spam messages but does not necessarily mean that you have obtained permission from every phone user," said Zhang, the judge.

She said police monitored a dramatic decline in spam texts the first day of the trial in her court, but experts believe the government's clampdown is not enough to solve the problem.

"We need a long-term and systematic method to curb the spam," said Wang Yongjie, deputy dean of the law school at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai. Wang said half the text messages he receives every day are spam.

Yu, the lawyer, thinks all spam texts should be banned, with or without a license. "Disturbing the phone users' right to peace is against civil laws." But laws should be updated to clearly address the issue, Yu said.

In addition, the experts said the three wireless telecom carriers in China should take primary responsibility and establish better monitoring and screening systems. Spokesmen for the carriers, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, declined China Daily's interview requests.

Currently, mobile phone users who are irritated by spam texts can file complaints with their carriers by forwarding the spam to a service number and the carriers will track the originating number and how many messages it sends. But most users don't bother. And those who do can expect no feedback about the investigation, according to China Mobile's service line.

Another spam reporting hotline, 12321, is affiliated with China Internet Society, but complaint phone calls did not get through to any operator after several tries on a weekday afternoon last week.

Experts say technology can also be improved to solve the problems. Su, who is with the university wireless technology center, believes that current systems may screen only 60 percent of spam messages but an easy upgrade could make it 90 percent effective. The difference would come from monitoring for key words and the number of messages sent from one phone number in a short time.

"The carriers need to step up efforts on monitoring as well," Su said.

Lawyers Yu and Wang noted that the carriers make money from the text message services they provide. However, Wang appealed to both carriers and authorities to work together to monitor spam.

Wu Dong, a partner with Shanghai-based M&A Law Firm, believes laws should be updated to ensure effective monitoring. And they should tell people that sending spam messages could be a crime.

One of the four defendants in the Beijing spamming trial argued to the court that he didn't send any text message with illegal or pornographic content so he did not think it was illegal.

Source: China Daily
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