Now obviously, I’m expecting the spam rate to increase exponentially as we approach GE13, and to me that’s really bad news. In fact over the last month alone, I’ve received 5 text messages from the Barisan Nasional Yakini BN campaign–they know my FULL name, my contact number and even my place to vote. They know more about me than I’ve ever given out to ANYONE from any survey, and I consider this an invasion of my privacy.
Selangor BN’s response
The Malaysian Digest reported that the Selangor BN Co-ordinator , Datuk Seri Mohd Zin Mohamed dismissed criticisms over the short message service (SMS) campaign by Selangor Barisan Nasional (BN). Going so far as to say:
“My question to them (critics) is: why do you post (messages) on Facebook and Twitter? Maybe they (the Opposition and pro-opposition) is feeling pressured by our penetration,”
Which just goes to show how ignorant this guy is of social media. When someone post something on Twitter, the only people who can see that tweet are their followers. Therefore if I’m not following the Selangor BN twitter account, I won’t be seeing any of the Selangor BN tweets–unless of course someone I’m following re-tweets it. The same goes for Facebook, it’s unlikely that I’ll see a post from the Selangor BN, unless I’m following or ‘liked’ the Selangor BN Facebook book–and trust me, that will never happen.
To compare Facebook and Twitter to an SMS blast is just pure ignorance of the concepts of social media. When you send me an SMS, there is no filter on my phone to remove the message.
However, certain BN politicians have taken to promoting their tweets on twitter–I won’t tell you who.
How did BN get my personal data?
The next question is obviously, how did BN get my personal data? To which Dato Zin responded:
“Mohd Zin explained that the details of the SMS recipients were gathered by experts from Selangor BN’s machinery, adding that they have also engaged professionals to record the details of Selangor folks by going house-to-house”
First and foremost, I want to know which survey was held to get my data, I never share anything remotely private to any survey that is conducted ‘house-to-house’. I’d also like to point out, that I never agreed for my number to be used for sms-blast, and unless someone can show my a consent form of me agreeing to this, then the sms-blast is probably breaking the guidelines of the Personal Data Protection Act.
It’s just an SMS
The final defence for the sms spam though is that it’s just an SMS, and it doesn’t cause any harm. I disagree with this statement 100%.
Firstly, if I receive an sms on my birthday from BN, and if the BN helpdesk can phone me to inform me of my voting place, it means that the Barisan Nasional have a huge amount of my private and personal data. Of course this doesn’t scare me, but to most people the thought of a political party having such personal details is disturbing–particularly the government servants.
Secondly, if we allow the Barisan Nasional to send me SMS’s to promote their Yakini BN campaign, what’s the difference then between this an any other promotional SMS from any other company. Political parties shouldn’t be given exemptions in this regard, and should be subjected the same laws governing SMS promotions.
So take for instance, the guidelines from the MCMC to mobile content service providers that stipulates:
Para 73: “In any promotional SMS sent, all MCS providers shall include a notification that the customer can opt out from receiving further promotional SMS by sending an “OUT” or “KELUAR” keywords to the MCS provider. Upon receiving these keywords, the MCS provider shall immediately cease sending out any further marketing SMS to this customer, using any short code(s) by the MCS providers, even if the customer has an active subscription.”
Non-compliance of article 2.2 of the ASP(C) standard licence conditions is an offence under Section 242 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 3 1998. If found guilty by the court, they could be compounded for not more than RM100,000-00 or jailed for not more than two years or both.
So if the MCMC is regulating Mobile Content Services (MSC), why can’t it regulate these spam SMS’s as well? Why do we hold advertisers of mobile services to a high degree, but let political parties off the hook? In case you’re wondering how serious–the MCMC recently fined 12 companies a total of Rm260,000 for breaching these regulations–I wonder how much we’d fine BN.
The difference between Pakatan and Barisan
Finally, let me explain why I single out BN only. In the last 6 months, I received 16 text messages from BN–and just 2 from Pakatan (specifically my local MP). Also, the 2 text messages from my PAS MP came from the same number, while the Barisan Nasional text messages came from 16 different numbers–not one single number sent me more than1 text message. Which is strange and dodgy–since I can’t block the number from my end either.
So it’s not just the sheer volume of SPAM text messages that BN sends out, it’s the manner in which they send it out as well that pisses me off.
The BN spam sms campaign is not just an annoyance, it’s a breach of privacy and confidentiality. It infringes on my rights as a citizen to have my data kept secret from any political party, and the fact that the regulatory body put in charge to look into matters like this is remaining silent on the issue is both worrying–and to a certain degree–expected.
Let’s just hope we stop receiving these pathetic attempts to solicit support once the General election is over.