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China drowning in sms spam Richard Seynfield | , 12:46 p.m. April 2, 2008 2008-04-02

Nowadays more than one billion sms circulate in Chinese networks every day! Confronted with such big amounts the authorities - which usually happen to be pretty keen on controlling their media - seem to have some problems lately. According to recent information they were not even able to prevent the 200 million unwanted advertising messages from delivery. And China's official provider number one 'China Mobile' seems to have been hit the worst.

This comes as an even more unflattering blow as it was only 2 weeks ago, at the World Consumer Rights Day, that official media outlawed unrequested messages as intolerable phenomenon. With China Mobile being among the first to announce that they would take decisive countermeasures.

Chinese newspapers recently even published some company names along with indications of their share of spam responsibilities. According to those numbers it is for example a subsidiary enterprise of the stock exchange listed company 'Focus Media' who is to cause 30 million sms spams per day. Confronted with these accusation however, the Focus Media vice president Ji Hairong admitted that the subsidiary in question may indeed be responsible but that it was not within Focus Media's power to influence on their subsidiary's daily activities.

Holes in the Wall

China Mobile's inefficiency to suppress SMS spam even caused them to receive an official reproval from government authorities. According to a 'Xinhua' report, Liu Yue - a representative of the department for trade and economics - furthermore appealed to the spammers to absolutely refrain from such "wrongdoing behavior" and to stop enriching themselves on the costs of the general public.

The public fight versus the tons of sms spam seems all the more interesting as it reveals how vulnerable Chinese censorship attempts indeed are. Contrary to common Western cliches is seems not as easy for officials to repress the commercial sms delivery after all. This comes even more surprising as this could be a relatively easy to task, as it merely requires to detect spam sms via the use of filter programs. Which were to find regular spam sms containing the same message over and over again in no time.

In the face of such apparent filter setbacks, one has to ask himself how the censorship authorities want to handle millions of individually composed messages, if they cannot even detect the more common default ones in first place? And with 600 million Chinese mobile phone users and billions of messages per day and week this seems even more unlikely. And having to rely on draconian penalty threats to restrain transmissions of subversive messages only seems to support this thesis.

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