Attempt to ban voicemail spamming

2006-01-01

Helen Martin

Virus Bulletin, UK
Editor: Helen Martin

Abstract

Rogers Wireless Inc. appeals to Canadian Radio-television and Telemarketing Commission for a ban on voicemail spamming.


Canadian wireless operator Rogers Wireless Inc. is appealing to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to ban the marketing practice of voicemail spamming.

The process the company objects to is known as 'voicecasting' and involves the use of an automated dialling device to transmit marketing messages directly into the voicemail accounts of mobile telephones. Because the messages are transmitted directly to the voicemail accounts, the telephone does not ring, so consumers don't realise they've received the advertising messages until they retrieve their voicemail.

In a complaint filed with the CRTC, Rogers Wireless argued that mobile phone customers should not have to pay airtime charges to access marketing messages that have been disguised as legitimate voicemail. The company also pointed out that the costs are even higher for customers who retrieve messages while abroad, when roaming or long-distance charges also come into play.

Somewhat surprisingly, the man credited with inventing voicemail spamming says he agrees with Rogers Wireless. Cesar Correia, founder of Infolink Technologies Inc., the largest provider of voicecasting services in Canada, said: 'Customers should not be incurring charges when somebody is sending a voicecast to a cellphone. It's unfair to the public'.

Telephone companies and consumer groups will be hoping that Rogers Wireless has put together a strong case - in 2001 Bell made a similar complaint to the CRTC about voicecasting, but the regulator ruled that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that the practice was a nuisance to consumers. This time the CRTC is expected to issue a public notice and seek comment on the issue.

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