Who Is In Charge Here?

(People's Daily)  Who Is In Charge Over Those Harmful/Annoying SMS?  By Lou Huojun (娄和军)  September 6, 2007

[In translation]

Ring ring ...

On September 5 morning, I was busy working when the mobile telephone rang.  I picked it up and I read: "Our company is experienced in compiling academic records on your behalf, obtaining high-interest loans quickly ..."

Ring ring ...

There it rang again and my thoughts were interrupted once more:  "Expert private tutoring that will raise 20 to 60 points on the average ...

From "obtaining fake documents" to "winning the grand prize," from "hot-selling apartments" to "discount airline tickets," the junk SMS arrived one after another to my annoyance until I decided to get down to the bottom of the problem.

At 10:45, I dialed the China Unicom customer service line.

"Ignore them.  Do not reply."  After listening to my story, the service worker made that "recommendation" to me.

"Does your company have any process to stop junk SMS mail?"

 "Our company can block a service provider from sending out bulk mail.  But if the SMS was sent in a group from a mobile telephone, then this is a private matter and we have no right to block it."

I learned that Tianjin Mobile has invested in a restructuring of their network so that any Mobile number sending more than 100 SMS per hour per number will be blocked.  The system can also automatically determine whether something is junk and subsequently restrict the ability of that number to send SMS.

"Does Beijing Unicom have similar procedures to intercept junk SMS?"

"I have not received such a notice," said the service worker.

She suggested that if junk SMS was affecting my productivity, "you can call 110."

At 11:00, I called 110.

"You can file a complaint about any SMS related to illegal activities, such as providing fake documents, selling stolen vehicles, pornography, drug dealing, etc.  We are unable to handle apartment sales, discount airline tickets and other SMS advertisements," said the police comrade.

I reported two mobile telephone numbers that were offering fake documentation.

"We will forward the information to the relevant department.  If verified, we will shut down those telephone numbers.  Presently, there is no real-name registration system for mobile telephones, so it is hard to track down the individuals.  Some of these people will just change the number and continue to send.  You should check with other departments about the junk SMS advertisements," said the police officer.

At 11:16, I called the Beijing Industry and Commerce Administration's complaint hotline 12315.

"Did they take money out from your mobile phone account?" The service worker asked me.


"Since there was no transaction, it is beyond our jurisdiction.  If the SMS are about illegal activities or pornography, you may complain to the public security departments."

"Are mass SMS campaigns supervised by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce?"  I asked.

"We accept complaints about harmful advertisements on television and in newspapers.  But there is no relevant law with respect to sales and marketing by SMS.  Therefore, we really cannot handle such cases."  She recommended that I check with the Ministry of Information Industry and she provided me with a telephone number.

At 2:00pm, I dialed the Beijing City Telecommunication Administration's complaint hotline number 68212300.

"It is not easy to control SMS of a commercial nature," said a female worker.

"Why is it not easy to control?"

"It is hard for the service provider to inspect the messages one by one."  But she said that when a telephone number sends a mass mailing greater than a certain threshold, the relevant procedures will take effect."

Specifically, which department is doing that?  What are the standards?"

"I am not sure."

She recommended that I consult China Mobile or China Unicom for assistance.

At 2:15, I decided to call the Consumers' Association.  I called the Beijing Consumers' Association's hotline number 96315 repeatedly until 3:00pm, but I kept getting the recorded message "We are busy."  I called the China Consumers' Association complaint number 63281315.  A worker said that junk SMS comes is the responsibility of the Ministry of Information Industry's Telecommunication Users Complaint Center, and provided me with a telephone number.

At past 3:00pm, I called the Ministry of Information Industry's Telecommunication Users Complaint Center number 12300.

"You can call the Internet Society of China complaint center at 12321," said a worker.

"But the Society is not a government department.  Can they deal with it?"

"This is a nationwide number.  Everybody calls that number."

So I called that number until 5:00pm.  But the voice message was always: "Nobody is available to take your call at this time."

Before I left work, I called the China Mobile customer service hotline.

"You can forward the junk SMS to 10086999 to complain," said the service worker.  Once the company's relevant department verified the information, the mobile telephone numbers from which the mass junk SMS came will be placed under restriction.  But this is only limited to China Mobile numbers.  If the junk SMS came from China Unicom, then you better ask China Unicom."

I spent quite an amount of money on the telephone charges today for this project and this is where I ended up!

So who is in charge of the junk SMS?