ACMA attacks shonky SMS services

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has announced that it has been successful in obtaining injunctions and declarations in the Federal Court against a number of parties involved with the sending of unsolicited SMS messages.

A default judgement was given on 14 August against five respondents, Mobilegate Ltd, Winning Bid Pty Ltd, Mr Simon Anthony Owen, Mr Tarek Andreas Salcedo and Mr Glenn Christopher Maughan, concerning breaches of the Spam Act 2003.

Chris Chapman, chairman of the ACMA, commented on how this is a landmark case in relation to SMS spam.

“This is the first SMS spam case that the ACMA has brought before the courts,” he said.

“The significant resources that the ACMA has put into this matter, again demonstrates our commitment to protecting Australians against illegal conduct.”

The ACMA proceedings were instituted in the Federal Court in Brisbane in December 2008 in relation to premium SMS chat services. The ACMA alleges that the respondents were engaged in a complicated scheme to obtain mobile phone numbers from members of dating websites, using fake member profiles, in order to send commercial electronic messages by SMS.

It is alleged that unsolicited messages were then sent to the mobile phone numbers offering the opportunity to chat via SMS. But according to the ACMA the chat was not offered by genuine members of dating website but employees of Mobilegate Ltd and Winning Bid Pty Ltd.

Consumers ended up being charged up to five dollars per message.

A hearing as to the penalty is pending against the five respondents, and a further hearing is scheduled to commence on 30 November in relation to three more respondents.

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