[photopress:it_mobilespam.jpg,full,alignright]China Mobile has apologized for its management loopholes that allowed the spread of spam text messages to nearly half of the country’s cell phone users.
The country’s largest mobile operator has vowed to block short messages originating from online advertising firms.
Marketing operations manager Xu Ming said, ‘As the mobile operator, we have the obligation to block spam text messages. We hold an unavoidable responsibility in this case.’
Focus Media Chairman Jiang Nanchun apologized for the trouble on Wednesday. The company said in a statement it had urged its subsidiaries to halt short message services in a clean-up campaign.
Which sounds, on the face of it, somewhat iffy.
A time-line would help:
March 15: The share price of Focus Media on NASDAQ closed over 16% up at $37.41.
March 17: It slumped by 26.59%, bottoming out at $29.25, a new low for the year.
March 18: A press release from Focus Media said: ‘Focus Media does not approve sending advertising messages to mobile users without user consent. FMW (Focus Media Wireless) has established an internal policy to strictly prohibit sending SMS or MMS messages without the explicit consent of the receiving mobile user’.
March 21: The China Daily (this is a government newspaper) reports Focus Media Wireless, the mobile advertising subsidiary of Focus Media, was sending more than 100 million spam text messages to cell phone users in the country, 100 million a day, every day, without their consent.
March 21: Later the same day, the government, through its press agency Xinhua, announced Focus Media Wireless was totally banned from the two major mobile phone operators. This is fairly astounding news because it means Focus Media Wireless simply cannot function.
March 21: Later yet. Jason Jiang, in a press release, said he was sorry for not fulfilling supervisory and control duties and said Focus Media Wireless would stop spamming. Which is a bit pointless because if the telephone companies have closed you down you cannot send spam.
March 23: The extent of the spamming becomes public knowledge. According to Nanfang Metropolis News, Focus Wireless’ Zhengzhou subsidiary sends out 200 million SMS every single day (twice what was originally thought) while several other company subsidiaries send out upwards of 30 million SMS per day.
Source: Windows of China and research