GEO

Who keeps spamming us with SMS advertising?

06 November, 2013

A number of companies continue sending unsolicited SMS advertising to mobile phones,  violating the Georgian law on personal data protection. To convince these companies that they should respect not only the law but also peoples’ privacy, we start collecting and publishing the names of companies who fail to comply.

The law (Article 5 and 8) obliges the sender of direct advertising messages to obtain the recipient’s personal data (name, address, telephone and fax numbers, email) only with the person’s consent (unless the data was retrieved from “public sources” – a term that is not defined by the law). In any case, the consumer has to be notified on his right to opt out from receiving messages. In most cases, companies that send mass advertising SMS do not comply with these rules.

Soon after her appointment in July, Tamar Kaldani, Georgia’s first personal data protection inspector, who is tasked with ensuring that all entities act in accordance with the law when using personal information, warned companies about these legal provisions and even offered consultations.

Despite Kaldani’s warning, private companies continue bombarding us with unsolicited mobile ads every day. These advertisers are taking advantage of the fact that the inspector can currently only issue warnings but is not empowered to inspect cases and impose sanctions on violators until 2016. Only then, the law on personal data protection will be fully enforced, and the inspector will be allowed to fine violators.

Until then, we appeal to these companies’ sense of social responsibility as well as their intrinsic interest to not upset and annoy their potential customers – and on the behavior of consumers who can voice their discontent with the behavior of these enterprises.

Below we start listing companies from which TI Georgia staff has received unsolicited SMS advertising without any prior consent (we seek to not include companies that send out messages after you signed up for their customer loyalty programs). If you received spam SMS from other companies recently, you can post them in the forum below.

 

Company

Website

Alltours

https://www.facebook.com/TourALLTOURS

Alta

http://alta.ge/

Amboli

http://www.amboli.ge/

ARAY Tomorrow

http://www.araytomorrow.ge/

Baldi

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Baldi-Georgia/235976756520387

Bosch

http://international.bosch.com/georgia/ka/homepage/

Carrefour

http://carrefour.com.ge/

Chic Bebe

https://www.facebook.com/chicbebe2013

City Club

https://www.facebook.com/pages/CITY-CLUB/147278917898

Club 71

http://www.club71.ge/

Elit Electronics

http://www.ee.ge/

GASA

https://www.facebook.com/LLC.GASA

HInterior

KSB Bank

http://www.korstandardbank.com/

Lotus

http://www.lotus.ge/

MEDI

http://medi.ge/

Megaline

https://www.facebook.com/pages/MEGALINE/128322873910197

Mnapoleone

Nissan

http://www.nissan.com.ge/

OK

http://ok-shop.ge/

RAK ceramics

https://www.facebook.com/pages/RAK-Ceramics-Georgia/180549638773941

Safilo

http://safilo.ge/

Salamander

https://www.facebook.com/kalamani.ge

Samsung

https://www.facebook.com/SamsungGeorgia

Smiley

http://smiley.ge/

Techno Boom

http://technoboom.ge/

TK - Batumi

http://www.t-k.ge/

Tourist agency “Sakartvelo”

Vivasun

https://www.facebook.com/vivasangeo

Where mobile marketing companies receive the phone numbers and data on consumers from remains unclear. Mobile phone operators have told Transparency International Georgia that they are not selling or sharing the numbers of their clients. TI Georgia interviewed GeoSMS’s and Paradox Georgia’s representatives – companies that offer bulk sms advertising services – who confirmed that they are in possession of large databases of Georgian mobile phone numbers and other data points connected with these numbers, however neither company wanted to describe how they received the data, arguing that Georgian legislation does not require them to  disclose the sources of their datasets and that sending tens of thousands of unsolicited advertising SMS is not in violation of the law.

Transparency International Georgia welcomes the data protection inspector’s attempt to address mobile spam issue through warnings, but we also call on the office to issue specific guidelines for the private sector on how to conduct mobile marketing in line with the law.

Meanwhile concerned citizens can send emails to the data protection inspector’s office office@pdp.ge, or call at (+995 32) 21 46 831. You can also visit their official Facebook page. If you are a representative of one of the companies listed above and would like to contact us, email diana.chachua@transparency.ge.

 

---

The G-MEDIA program is made possible by support from the American people through USAID. The content and opinions expressed herein are those of Transparency International Georgia and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Government, USAID or IREX.

 

USAIDIREX Georgia

Author: Transparency International Georgia
GMedia