UK mobile operators join forces to combat text spam

Mobile phone users can report spam messages by forwarding them to a central service free of charge

U.K. mobile network operators EE, O2, Three and Vodafone have teamed up with the U.K. Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to try to stop and punish companies that are sending spam text messages.

The falling cost of sending bulk SMS messages is helping criminals to take advantage of consumers' trust of a highly personal medium, according to industry organization GSMA (GSM Association).

The operators are keen to keep text message inboxes free from spam.

"We want our customers to enjoy their mobiles, and spam is a barrier for them to do that. So if we can do something about it, we are keen to," said Guy Middleton, head of corporate communications at Three.

U.K. mobile phone users can report spam messages by forwarding them to "7726" or "SPAM" free of charge using GSMA's Spam Reporting Service. The messages are aggregated and analyzed, providing operators with important details about the origin and size of the attack. Operators can then share the data in real-time to ensure they can all block and cut off spammers.

The ICO's role is to mete out fines if spammers are violating local Privacy of Electronic Communication Regulations, which companies that send direct marketing electronically in the U.K. must comply with. Companies are not allowed to send marketing messages without asking for consent. They are also not allowed to conceal their identities, according to ICO's web site.

As a next step, EE, O2, Three, Vodafone and the ICO are investigating ways to extend the Spam Reporting Service to address nuisance calls, as well.

The Spam Reporting Service is operated on behalf of the GSMA by Cloudmark, a company that specializes in messaging security software. The service was originally launched in February 2011, following a pilot that AT&T, KT, SFR, Sprint, and Vodafone took part in.

The service works as a global clearinghouse of messaging spam reports submitted by mobile phone users. By combining different kinds of data, it gives operators the ability to understand the amount of spam entering and leaving their networks, as well as the amount of spam within their networks, according to GSMA's website.

Send news tips and comments to

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags consumer electronicsEEantispamGSM Associationsecuritysmartphoneso2Vodafone Groupthree

More about CloudmarkGSM AssociationICOmobilesO2SFRSprintVodafone

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Mikael Ricknäs

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts