A crackdown on SMS spammers is the need of the hour

Ever woke up to that text in the middle of the night only to find it saying “Mah-e-Ramzan k mahinay apni pasandida naat sun k lye abhi dial kijye 4177” and feeling annoyed or when you’re at work and your cell buzzes with a text alert and you check to see a message saying “DINER’s Eid sale now on at your nearest store!”

The idea of SMS marketing is not bad in itself; it becomes one when the number of texts sent surpasses normal limits. There is something as an SMS in a week, two days but when it gets to five in a day that is preposterous, it’s frustrating.

This medium lets you reach countless number of people at one time but Pakistanis being Pakistanis have made this a spammers’ zone. It is the responsibility of PTA to curb such nuisance, put some capping to the texts sent from a particular source, heck, it is the service providers themselves which are part of the club as mentioned in my introductory para.

The antidote to this SMS bombardment lies in being vigilant on public’s part as well. Do not just hand in numbers at stores wherein you’ve shopped or some website that you have recently signed up at. The thing is there is no concept of privacy in Pakistan. Outside of here, there are privacy policy laws. The concerned store or website for that matter cannot share user’s registered information with third parties but here, unfortunately, and from the looks of it, the mobile numbers are shared. There is nothing like explicit consent of the customer, so the contact information is a pool lying open for spammers to exploit people. Every now and then you will get a text about a product or a place which you may have never heard of or never have been to but still you receive that SMS.

There are methods whereby you can a add sender to block/spam list but that can help you only so much. There is hassle of adding those numbers to the list by either subscribing to your telecom carrier’s service that charges you or you can add it manually in your phone every time you receive an SMS from any such number. While PTA had some mechanisms in place back in 2009-10 and 2012 respectively, they weren’t followed through. ‘Do Not Disturb’ service prevented subscribed users from receiving any spam call or SMS. Secondly, a plan that a SIM would be terminated if 200 texts were shot from the same number within 15-mintues time frame was one of the good measures to combat this.

We urge PTA to bring back the aforementioned solutions and see to its proper execution. Else come up with a new course of action to begin the crack down as Rangers have (no pun intended).

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