Waspa launches the Codes Project to decrease unsolicited marketing

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Ilonka Badenhorst says the Codes Project enables consumers to identify the owner of a short, long or USSD code.

South Africa has legislation in place that protects consumers against unsolicited marketing, which has over recent years also been associated with increasing cyber-criminal activity and scams. 

However, despite the legal frameworks in place, including the Consumer Protection Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act, unwanted messages advertising products continue to find their way through. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the average person to ascertain whether the sender is reputable or not.

According to Ilonka Badenhorst, managing executive of the Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (Waspa), unsolicited direct marketing messages may create frustration for the recipient, especially if they are unable to identify the originator of the message.

Waspa is a self-regulatory body that represents and regulates organisations that provide mobile-based value added services, for almost two decades. 

In response to the increase in unsolicited marketing, Waspa has launched a Codes Project through which consumers can identify the owner of a short, long or USSD code.

Ilonka says, “This will make it easy to identify where the SMS came from, although of course, the platform will only contain information about service providers that are registered with Waspa. If the company that sent the SMS is registered with Waspa, their contact details will be provided, allowing the consumer to contact them directly to obtain more information on the originator of the message, to request to be removed from the database or to lodge a complaint.”

The Codes Project is an extension of the Do Not Contact (DNC) initiative, explains Ilonka, which is a list that consumers can add their number to, in order to avoid unsolicited SMS advertising. Waspa members engaged in direct SMS marketing campaigns are required to check the DNC list on a weekly basis.

She adds that in a situation where the organisation sending the messages fails to comply, the consumer can then lay a complaint through Waspa.  

“It is worth noting that the Consumer Protection Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act contain specific provisions regulating direct marketing, and that Waspa’s code incorporates all of the requirements of these laws. Moreover, this code is binding on members and any company sending messages via a member,” Ilonka concludes.

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