MTN, WASPA fight rogue SMS subscriptions

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MTN has collaborated with the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA), to help protect customers from unwanted mobile subscriptions or spam SMS.

This builds on an existing partnership the local telco signed with mobile technology company Upstream in 2018, to deploy its security platformSecure-D, which exposes suspicious and malicious mobile apps.

MTN says it has extended that partnership to include WASPA and take this initiative one step further, to protect consumers by ensuring all mobile application service providers adhere to the WASPA Code of Conduct.

In June, WASPA launched a Codes project, which allows users to identify unwanted advertising messages, as well as determine the legitimacy of an SMS sender.

According to a statement, as part of the new collaboration with MTN, WASPA will review escalated queries and lodge the necessary complaint against any member found in contravention of the WASPA Code of Conduct, or work with the member to take remedial action, where relevant, to ensure all providers adhere to the WASPA Code and MTN Business rules.

The WASPA Code of Conduct has set requirements for the provision of services, and strict privacy and confidentiality stipulations to ensure members of the public can use mobile services with confidence, assured they will be provided with accurate information about all services and the pricing associated with those services.

It also aims to provide consumers with a mechanism for addressing any concerns or complaints relating to services provided by WASPA members, and a framework for impartial, fair and consistent evaluation and response to any complaints made.

“Upstream and MTN have been partners in the content space for a number of years,” says Jason Probert, GM, digital services at MTN South Africa.

“They share our philosophy of building a clean content ecosystem that puts customers first and were therefore selected to develop the technology that we use to detect fraudulent content subscriptions on our network. When they introduced their new ad tracking technology and demonstrated how it could further enhance our ability to ensure customers are not misled by advertising, we jumped at the opportunity to engage further.”

As the proliferation of smartphones continues to grow, so too does the mobile application and advertising market.

Mobile app spending and usage hit a record high in 2019 and WASPA believes one of the main challenges in the sector is tracking and monitoring advertising flagged as non-compliant − misleading adverts and services which use social engineering tactics to deceive users into making unwanted purchases.

Ilonka Badenhorst, managing executive at WASPA, points out the battle against mobile fraud is a difficult one – a challenge that evolves as quickly, if not quicker, than the new technologies that create the loopholes.

“It is little wonder that unscrupulous advertisers are turning to social media and in-app advertising more and more in order to get their misleading messages in front of consumers' eyes.

“It is imperative that we pair the enthusiasm to understand new mobile service offerings with the enthusiasm to safely navigate the dangers of the digital environment. This collaboration will help the sector remain healthy, deliver educational and entertainment services to only subscribers who want them, while ensuring business continuity to service providers and MTN,” notes Badenhorst.

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