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No opting out of government’s COVID-19 SMS


JOHANNESBURG – MOBILE users in South Africa cannot opt-out of the government’s coronavirus (COVID-19) short message (SMS) that have been sent over the past few weeks.

Thus, they must be wary of fraudsters that could take advantage of this.

Mobile users should, therefore, exercise caution and their own common sense when receiving any message on their mobiles related to the virus.

This is according to South Africa’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) as the country battles a raging outbreak of the virus.

As such, mobile clients should expect to receive educational SMS text messages to do with the current emergency.

The government has mandated that mobile network operators (MNOs), in particular, should twice daily transmit educational text messages relating to combating the current pandemic.

“Aside from expecting these messages disseminated by the country’s MNOs and wireless application service providers, mobile consumers should also be aware that they cannot opt-out of these vital communications,” said Ilonka Badenhorst, General Manager of WASPA.

In that regard, WASPA drew the public’s attention to Clause 17.3 of the WASPA Code of Conduct.

It states, “Members are not obliged to honour an opt-out or block request for communications required by law.”

Under powers granted to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in terms of the Disaster Management Act, and which were published recently, MNOs are required to send “at least two public announcements per day regarding the prevention and management of COVID-19”.

To avoid fraud, WASPA informed that for instance, legitimate educational text messages would never request any personal or financial information from the receiver.

In addition, any links that may be included within government-mandated text messages will almost always only redirect to government-sanctioned COVID-19 resources.

– CAJ News

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