A bigger worry than lead paint on toys?

Chinese Cellular Provider To Help Crack Down On SMS SpamApple made headlines around the world when slave-like conditions at its Chinese manufacturing facility were exposed. Last year the proliferation of China-made toys with lead paint caused outrage among Westerners. But while these two events angered consumers outside the Middle Kingdom, Chinese consumers themselves have reason to get up in arms: A recent tidal wave of SMS spam.

More than 200 million of the country\’s mobile phones – about half of all China\’s cell phone users – were sent spam from seven advertising services companies. Consumers\’ personal information, including cell phone numbers, were somehow obtained by the ad companies.

In response to the widespread outrage, one of the companies, NASDAQ-traded Focus Media, said it will no longer send SMS messages without the \”explicit consent\” of recipients. China Mobile, the largest mobile operator in the country, also apologized, claiming it would block any future messages sent by Focus Media. The cellular operator said it is its duty to block spam text message, and will work to clarify rules on spam message identification, blockage, and technology to ensure there\’s no repeat of the incident.

What\’s interesting is that China has no law about spam sent via SMS – just like the United States. Meanwhile China\’s SMS market is more mature than North America\’s. U.S. mobile marketers, then, should watch to see what kinds of laws and regulations the Chinese come up with, since legislators here might decide to follow suit.

True, China has laws about spreading \”misinformation\” via text-messaging, which could apply to spam SMS. But such laws are used against political groups using texts to organize protests. The fallout of the SMS spam scandal might be the one instance in which Chinese \”censorship\” is agreed by consumers, government, and companies alike to be a good thing.

Eydie Cubarrubia
Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
\”I\’d rather you text me\”