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New rules to end SMS ads menace

By Macharia Kamau | September 23rd 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Companies marketing themselves through text messages could soon find themselves in trouble for sending consumers unsolicited messages. 

This is after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) made proposals that could significantly change how companies communicate with their consumers.

The move comes against the backdrop of numerous complaints against some brands for flooding their inboxes with adverts, mostly without their consent.

In the proposed regulations aimed at protecting consumers, CA will now require advertisers to wait until consumers make initial contact before they can start sending promotional text messages.

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Currently, corporates send mobile phone subscribers messages with a rider that they can opt out whenever they feel like it.

In the proposed regulations, consumers can only opt in without being prompted by corporates and agree to receive text messages advertising a company’s products.

“No service provider shall employ any opt-out process in the delivery of marketing communications in Kenya,” reads the proposed Consumer Protection Guidelines in part.

Advertisers will be required to market themselves on other platforms other than a consumer’s inbox and hopefully elicit interest from the consumers who shall then reach out to a company.

“Other alternative modes of communication in media such as newspapers, television or radio (non-SMS-based), among others, may be used to make consumers aware of the SMS-based scheme or service,” according to the proposals.

“Licensees shall be required to maintain records that can demonstrate that a consumer-initiated a request, by means of their terminal equipment before being subscribed to a service.” The proposals by CA also require advertisers to send text messages to their customers during the day. Sending messages after 7pm will only be allowed should the consumer request information from a corporate.

“Marketing communications delivered by SMS may only be sent during the day within the time period 7am and 7pm unless such marketing communications are being delivered in response to a request initiated by a customer… or prior consent has been expressly obtained from the customer for such communications to be delivered outside the time stipulated in these guidelines,” said the proposed guidelines.

CA also suggests stricter ways of marketing betting products, including clarity on the fact that winning is not guaranteed as well as the requirement to get consent to use winners to market products.


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