Driven by concerns that mobile marketing might attract a SPAM stigma and perceived lack of action by bodies such as the Direct Marketing Association, wireless marketing companies Mediatude, Flytxt and Saverfone recently announced the formation of the Wireless Marketing Association.
Who: The Wireless Marketing Association and the Data Protection Commission
When: November 2000
Driven by concerns that mobile marketing might attract a "SPAM" stigma and perceived lack of action by bodies such as the Direct Marketing Association, wireless marketing companies Mediatude, Flytxt and Saverfone recently announced the formation of the Wireless Marketing Association. The WMA has already won the support of Orange and plans to release a code of practice in January 2001 as well as other standards of conduct, non-adherence to which will mean loss of accreditation.
In a separate development which the WMA will doubtless be watching closely, the Data Protection Commission has pointed out to M-Commerce marketers that thanks to the recently introduced Telecommunications (Data protection and Privacy) Regulations, there are very tight restrictions on the use of "traffic" or "location data," in other words information now available to telecoms network operators using WAP and similar technology as to the precise physical location of their phone users. Under these Regulations, the telecoms operator who knows which street corner its subscriber is standing on can only use that data for marketing its own products, not those of any third party. This means that for a telecoms operator to provide its subscriber with telephone screen information about nearby restaurants and banks for example would be contrary to law, even if the user "opted in" to receive that information.
Why this matters:
Since this particular facet of M-technology has been much trumpeted as one of its "killer apps", this is hardly encouraging news for a marketing channel that has so far failed to set the world alight. Limited relief may be on the way, however, in the guise of a proposed Directive concerning the processing of personal data. In this connection the EU Advisory Board on Data Protection and Privacy is suggesting new measures which will remove the present complete ban and replace it with "opt-in". The proposed law would require mobile phone manufactures to embed in the product the means by which mobile phone users may ask to receive marketing messages from third parties.
Those searching for any sign that M-Commerce has well and truly arrived as a mainstream communications channel might perhaps take a certain twisted comfort from the attentions that the channel is now receiving from the regulators. However, the WMA has clearly not arrived a moment too soon if by collective action it is able to prevent the technology's possibilities being killed at birth by excessive data privacy concerns.