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NCC to protect subscribers against unsolicited SMS

By The Citizen

The Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) in its bid to check the ever increasing spate of unsolicited text messages by the over 100 million active subscribers in the country, has come up with a database of all Value Added Service (VAS) providers, together with the short-codes used by them.

NCC said the strategy is aimed at ensuring direct engagement and monitoring of the activities of each licensed VAS providers.

NCC was compelled to develop the database, following increased consumer complaints regarding unsolicited SMS from Value Added Service (VAS) providers marketing various services to unsuspecting consumers.

In a press statement, the Commission said it had forwarded warning letters, to all VAS providers in which the Commission stated categorically that all unsolicited messages or telemarketing activities within the networks could at best be done between the hours of 8am and 8pm, in line with the existing guidelines.

Upon identifying three VAS providers as operating illegally without necessary regulatory authorisation, NCC added that it has commenced enforcement process on these identified illegal VAS operators in line with Section 31 (1) of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003 and the Enforcement Processes Regulations 2005.

It could be recalled that the House of Representatives, in February 2013, commenced the process of empowering consumers of telecommunication services to challenge 'the invasion of privacy 'by telecom service providers.

The bill sponsored by Abiodun Abdul Balogun sought to prohibit any service provider from posting any unsolicited advertisement for any called party.

The bill is also seeking to prohibit any service provider from calling any residential telephone line using an artificial or pre-recorded voice to deliver text messages (SMS) without the prior consent of the called party.

Online telemarketing was not spared as it was also prohibited except with the consent or application of a subscriber.

They also proposed a fine of N5million for anyone convicted for engaging in unsolicited marketing through telemarketing