New regulations governing how SMS marketing can and can’t be conducted will take effect in China next week.
The move - which reinforces several pre-existing laws surrounding commercial communications - was announced last month by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). These laws require companies engaging in SMS marketing to:
- Comply with express requests from consumers not to send communications
- Disclose the identity of the advertiser in electronic advertising
- Provide a way for consumers to refuse future electronic advertising
Banded together, these measures have been dubbed ‘the Administrative Rules for Short Message Service’; they will take effect on June 30.
The rules define SMS messages as ‘communications used for introducing or promoting goods, services, or business investment opportunities.’ They state that, in the event of consent to receive commercial text messages being given, the company must specify what kind of information will be sent and how often it will be sent, and provide a time limit on the duration of future contact. In an interesting diversion from most international legislation, a ‘no reply’ to this follow up message must be considered the same as an explicit rejection.
Further, SMS service providers are compelled by law to keep records of commercial text messages, including time sent, time received, codes for the sending and receiving terminals, and information regarding subscriptions and un-subscriptions for at least five months (even if the service relationship is terminated).
Failure to comply with the requirements could result in a fine ranging from RMB 5,000 to RMB 30,000 (between $800 and $4800 USD).
China’s new rules are thought to be a government response to the public outcry regarding SMS spam - a major problem in the world’s fastest growing economy.