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Unsolicited SMS violates subscribers’ privacy – NCC
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Unsolicited SMS violates subscribers’ privacy – NCC

Kenny Awotorebo

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), said that unsolicited messages violated the privacy of mobile network subscribers.

It added that NCC guidelines on advertisements and promotions required network providers to notify the commission seven days prior to such advertisements.
Director of Public Affairs, NCC, Mr Tony Ojobo, made this clarification at a news conference on Political and Partisan Advertisements by network providers in Abuja on Tuesday.

He said the commission had nothing against any political party using short codes to advertise for fundraising or political campaigns once such is done in compliance with the regulations of the commission.

He called on Value Added Service (VAS) operators to ensure due process in carrying out advertisements on mobile network.

Ojobo restated the commission’s commitment to stakeholders and the public by carrying out its operations in firmness and fairness at all times.

According to him, the commission is inundated with complaints from several subscribers to the effect that they are receiving messages from Network Operators to vote for one political party or the other.

He said that VAS operators should notify the NCC within seven days before such adverts could be allowed.

“Our investigation showed that subscribers, in either checking their call balance or receiving end of call notification, got messages asking them to vote for one party or the other”

Mobile network operators within the industry in Nigeria have various forms of engagements with the subscribers and these included balance inquiry, end of call notifications and alerts.

Ojobo said there were 135million active subscribers on different networks in the country.

“It is the duty of the VAS providers in collaboration with mobile network operators through the use of short codes to reach their subscribers to raise funds as the case may be for purposes stated in their notifications to the commission. However, once the short codes have been formally allocated to a VAS provider, such provider must use the short code solely for the purpose intended.
The VAS provider should ensure that its operations are in compliance with the provisions of the NCC guidelines on the use of such codes in Nigeria’’, he stressed.

Section 3 of the NCC guideline states that: The commission shall receive written notification from the licensees for all advertisements for goods and services within a minimum of seven days of the proposed or planned publication of an advertisement.

He said the commission had sent letters dated Jan 19, 2015 to affected operators.

He cited examples whereby NCC in 2010 and 2011, based on applications received across party lines, granted short codes for use by political parties to raise funds as well as create awareness.