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UCC Issue Tough Rules Against “Unsolicited” Messages

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clinic http://danmarknorge.org/wp-includes/category.php geneva;”>UCC admits text messaging or Short Messaging Service (SMS) has grown over the years from being merely a supplementary service of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) utilised for point to point communication to a substantive and useful form of communication that supports not just personal communication across networks but provision of public and private services as well.

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store http://danielpyne.com/wp-includes/user.php geneva;”>However, prostate says UCC, the developments in text messaging and the multimedia Message services (MMS) has resulted in the emergence of a number of concerns such as mobile spam, transparency of pricing to consumers, deceptive and misleading messages, the need to protect children from inappropriate content, consumer privacy, and protection of national security.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is mandated under the Uganda Communications Act, Cap 106 Laws of Uganda to, among others, regulate communications services, promote the interests of consumers and operators as regards the quality of communications services, improve communications services generally, and to carry on any other related or connected functions.

One of the new requirements from service providers is that the customer or subscriber or user of a mobile cellular telecommunications service has to indicate willingness to access or utilise a service provided by a message originator or application provider.

The service providers are required at all times to conduct themselves in a professional manner in their dealings with the public, customers, telecommunication Operators and other service providers.

They will also adhere to the intellectual property Laws of Uganda and shall, in particular, not infringe the intellectual property rights of their clients, suppliers and other parties.

“Service Providers and Telecommunication Operators shall not knowingly transmit or publish prohibited content,” the guidelines read in part, adding, if they “become aware of illegal content under that Service Provider’s control, they must immediately suspend access to that content.”

Where required to do so by law, the Service Provider must report the illegal content to the relevant enforcement authority.

UCC also notes that Service Providers and Telecommunication Operators must co-operate with any content orders lawfully issued by law enforcement authorities or UCC and shall have procedures and mechanisms to trace the origin of content where applicable and shall upon the request by UCC provide details of such source.

Service Providers have been instructed not to provide any content that is objectionable on the ground of public interest, public morality, public order, public security, national harmony or “otherwise prohibited under the laws of Uganda.”

This ranges from content that promotes or depicts sexual violence, bestiality, incest, paedophilia, or any kind of coercion or non consensual sex; promotes acts of extreme violence or cruelty, glorifies, incites or endorses ethnic, racial or religious hatred, strife or intolerance.

UCC has also banned content that results in any unreasonable invasion of privacy; induces an unacceptable sense of fear or anxiety; encourages or incites any person to engage in dangerous practices or to use harmful substances; or degrades or demeans.

“Service Providers must ensure that all the relevant employees are made aware of these Guidelines and the requirements and procedures associated therewith,” UCC ordered.

MORE TOUGH RULES

This is not all.

The Service Providers have been told to provide transparent and fair dealings with their customers.

In particular, pricing information for services must be clearly and accurately conveyed to customers and potential customers with no hidden charges.

Service Providers shall not disseminate information that is false or deceptive, or that is likely to mislead by inaccuracy, ambiguity, exaggeration or omission.

They shall also avail the terms and conditions of any of their services to customers and potential customers, on request.

“Each Message sent must include a recognised accurate identifier. The recognized identifier shall be in a form which reasonably enables a Recipient to identify the Message Originator or Service provider of the Message,” the guidelines state.

“The Message shall also include clear and accurate information about how the recipient can readily contact that Message Originator or Service Provider. If the sending party is an organisation, the organisation’s name should also be included.”

Such recognised identifier and associated contact details provided shall continue to be accurate for at least 45 days after the Message is sent.

Every Service Providers are expected to respect the constitutional right of customers to personal privacy and privacy of communications and shall not provide unsolicited commercial communication to Subscribers unless prior consent has been obtained.

Regarding the customer’s right to opt-out, every Service Provider shall implement a functional, obvious, clear and efficient unsubscribe/opt out facility to enable a customer to send notification to the Service Provider barring further Messages to the Customer from the respective Service or application and this notification shall be based on the word ‘STOP’.

Such means implemented must be easy for all associated Customers to understand and use, minimise any inconvenience to the customer; and be provided at the lowest or no cost to the Customer.

An Unsubscribe Request shall be honoured as soon as practicable not later than 24 hours of receipt of the request and this state shall remain in effect until cancelled by that Subscriber.

UCC said the principal objective of these Guidelines is to promote the use with confidence of text and multi-media Messages by telecommunication subscribers and end users of services in Uganda with minimized encumbrances from mobile spam.

The Guidelines also seek to provide a transparent mechanism for complaint handling in relation to text and multimedia messaging and ensuring complaints are handled in a fair and efficient manner.

In addition, the Guidelines also seek to establish a regime to ensure that reasonable steps are taken by Service Providers to protect children from viewing mobile content that is not suitable for them.

The Guidelines also aim at ensuring that the use of text and multimedia Messages adheres to the Laws of Uganda.

Several sections of the Ugandan society have since been up in arms, attacking UCC for not taking radical steps to block these service providers from deducting their mobile phone credit for unsolicited messages.

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