Qatar Planning to Curb Mobile Spam Menace

Source : Gulf Times

The state’s telecommunications regulator ictQatar is studying measures to control the SMS spam problem 
Qatar - Jan 21: Qatar’s telecommunications regulator ictQatar is studying steps aimed at saving consumers from the menace of being bombarded with “unwanted” short text messages (SMS), Gulf Times has learnt.
The study was initiated after complaints from an increasing number of consumers that they were being barraged by SMS, ostensibly sent in bulk by traders announcing promotions, deals and tickets to events that the former said they were remotely interested in and never signed up for to begin with.

Unwanted commercial messages or SMS spam on mobile phones also consume time and invade the users’ privacy, the consumers say.

“We are currently working with the operators (Qtel and Vodafone Qatar) to see … what possible measures could be taken to ensure a set of rules in getting customers’ permission … in terms of how they would like to receive these messages,” ictQatar Regulatory Authority executive director William Fagan told Gulf Times yesterday. 

“This will be done in a way that they (consumers) still received the maximum range of consumer benefits,” Fagan added.

According to the official, the best way to go about it is to introduce an “opt-in” or “opt-out” facility.
“Our preference would be to go for opt in, whereby only those signing up for receiving these SMS will get them,” he said.

Marketers, however, would prefer the “opt out” measure since it would allow them to send bulk messages first and then delete those customers who do not want to get them later. In an “opt in” facility, most people will never call in to register for receiving marketing messages, traders and promoters fear.

The issue is quite technical in nature and puts pressure on telecommunication service providers since a blanket ban could cover the messages customers had opted for, as is the case with communication with their banks and messages from the Ministry of Interior such as traffic fine alerts.

“It is difficult for telecom companies to differentiate between the subjects of the messages. Marketers contact the service providers directly and we don’t want to interfere in that relationship,” ictQatar Legal and Regulatory manager Meegan Webb told Gulf Times.

“To prevent receiving these messages one should not display or give their mobile numbers to retailers, restaurants, or websites,” said Webb, whose department has drafted a consumer resource on the subject and which is available at

Customers can also send their experiences at

Often, she said, customers themselves handed out their contact details to their favourite retail store, only to receive promotional announcements from various other brands later.

“This is because that store’s owner is the franchisee for some other brands too. They share the database.”
According to her, what the service providers could offer is an “unsubscribe” option; a number where customers could call or text to get out of the “mailing list”.


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