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Fighting phone ‘spam’ proves difficult

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Sept 23,2005
The nation’s land-line and wireless telephone users received a whopping 32 million unsolicited calls in September of last year, according to Information Ministry data disclosed by a lawmaker yesterday at a National Assembly hearing. Representative Kwon Seon-taek of the governing Uri Party said the number of spam calls that were made to SK Telecom subscribers totaled 16.2 million in that month, while KTF subscribers received 7 million and LG Telecom subscribers 4.6 million. Spammers made 2.9 million calls through land-based KT and 894,168 calls through Hanaro Telecom. With regard to wireless services, about 34 percent of SK Telecom subscribers received at least one spam call, as did 31 percent of LG Telecom users and 26 percent of KTF users. A Ministry of Information and Communication official said the government has agreed with the telecom service providers to install equipment in local telephone switching offices and base stations that can filter out spam phone calls by January. Representative Hong Chang-sun of the Uri Party said the number of spam messages started picking up only two months after the government adopted in March a system for those who send commercial bulk messages by phone or place promotional calls. This “opt-in formula” encourages mobile marketers to obtain prior permission from potential message recipients. Reports of spam messages that customers made to SK Telecom, which averaged about 200,000 per month prior to the accord, dropped to 50,283 in April and to 27,312 in May. But the downward spiral was reversed in June, rising to 36,600, and reaching 54,500 last month. by Seo Ji-eun


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