Waspa beefs up

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The Wireless Application Service Providers' Association (Waspa), the industry watchdog that is meant to protect consumers from SMS spam and illegal billing, is restructuring in a bid to better protect consumers.

Waspa has come under fire after being accused of failing to enforce sanctions, leaving consumers at the mercy of some Wasps that continuously breach its code of conduct.

Ryan Birkin, a member of the management committee, says Waspa is implementing structural changes and beefing up its processes to accomplish more for consumers. The body is looking for two additional staff to deal with the day-to-day running, while the management committee - all of whom have day jobs - will focus more strongly on lobbying for its members, he says.

Birkin explains that the management committee plays no role in adjudication as it has to be independent. The management committee is made up of industry representatives and much of the operational aspects are outsourced to the Future Foundation, which handles its adjudication process, as well as other administrative duties.

However, Birkin says any legal process that a wireless application service provider launches, while an adjudication is ongoing, puts Waspa's process on hold. Part of what Waspa is doing is related to this aspect, he says.

At the end of April, there were 13 fines that were due and unpaid, nine of which were being paid off in instalments, and three outstanding fines came to R610 000, of which one was due to be paid, or attract a follow-up compliant.

For three of the remaining fines, further complaints have been lodged against the service provider, and are being investigated, the body says.

Waspa says the only unpaid fines dating back several years are those levied on companies that have had their membership terminated, or fines levied in complaints which are the subject of a legal dispute, which has to run its course before fines can be collected.

As far as ITWeb is aware, only two Wasps have ever been expelled: in 2006, Vending for Africa, and in 2011, local company T-Mobile.

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