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Opt-out list tops 200 000

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TrustFabric's opt-out list has grown to more than 210 000 users in April and should reach 250 000 this month at its current rate of growth, after launching about a year ago.

In terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which came into effect last April, a national opt-out registry is meant to be set up by the National Consumer Commission.

CEO Joe Botha says the bulk of the users have signed up through popular social networking application MXit. In April, 10 days after launching the mobile application, 30 000 people signed up.

“It's clear from the numbers that people are frustrated with spam,” says Botha. “By making our opt-out service more accessible to mobile phone users using MXit, a much wider group of citizens have access to an opt-out list," he adds.

There are two opt-out lists in SA. The other list is operated by the Direct Marketing Association of SA (DMASA) and contained 39 000 records when ITWeb reported that it had been leaked last year.

Not wanted

TrustFabric also operates a child protect service, which offers marketing companies a way to avoid sending adult content like alcohol and tobacco marketing to minors. This service works in a similar way to the opt-out service, but checks if a mobile number belongs to a user over 18 years old.

TrustFabric says it is estimated that more than 200 million direct marketing calls and messages are generated every month. The Internet Service Providers' Association recently estimated the cost of local e-mail-related direct marketing came to about R20 million a year in wasted time and traffic.

“Phone calls and SMS messages are far more intrusive and a bigger waste of productive time. The cost in wasted time from sales calls and SMS spam could be as high as R500 million per year,” says Botha.

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