Legislation may stall SMS as marketing tool

Companies looking to use short message service (SMS) mobile technology to market their goods and services may be prevented from...

Companies looking to use short message service (SMS) mobile technology to market their goods and services may be prevented from doing so as a result of government legislation to increase consumer protection.

Companies currently pitching for business in paper form have to include their address, company registration number, the country they are registered in and, in some cases, the names of their directors.

The 1985 Companies Act which demands this requirement is now being extended to cover both e-mail and SMS correspondence. One aim of the legislation is to ensure customers know who they are dealing with, but extending the extra details to SMS will swallow up most of the space.

An SMS message can carry a maximum of 160 characters, so any marketing message would have to be very short.

Companies currently involved in SMS campaigns include Cadburys, which is hoping to collect hundreds of thousands of mobile numbers for future promotions, as a result of customers having to register their numbers to take part in the current campaign.

A spokeswoman from mobile marketing firm Brainstorm - a member of the Wireless Marketing Association - called on the Government to let the industry regulate itself rather than impose regulations.

Association members have agreed to a code of practice which says customers should sign up voluntarily to specific brands or mobile campaigns rather than be targeted by many others simply because their mobile number has been registered with a company before.

Companies House and the Department of Trade & Industry are helping the Government finalise the draft legislation.

Read more on IT legislation and regulation

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