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BTRC makes bulk-SMS content pre-approval mandatory

  • Published at 09:34 pm January 18th, 2020
Logo of BTRC
Logo of BTRC

Bulk-SMS is mostly used by companies and corporate for business communication with their clients

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has made mandatory the pre-approval of the contents of bulk-SMS on security grounds.

Bulk-SMS is mostly used by companies and corporate for business communication with their clients.

BTRC in a notice issued on December 31 last year asked mobile phone operators that for two months, starting from January 15, all bulk-SMS contents should be vetted by the commission before circulating.

The operators concerned have to apply for content vetting 10 days before the circulation, said the notice.

It also said mobile phone operators would be held liable if any such bulk-SMS is found in circulation without BTRC vetting.

BTRC officials said following request from different law enforcing agencies the commission made the decision.

“The law enforcing agencies presented cases showing that bulk sms is used for spreading rumors and message for terrorist organizations," a senior BTRC official told Dhaka Tribune.

He said considering the sensitivity of the Dhaka city polls, the government decided to implement the order immediately.

“Basically mobile phone companies are the main responsible party for filtering the content of Bulk-SMS. Companies and corporate organizations buy big chunk of SMS from telcos and use SMS aggregators, who deal with SMS dissemination, to communicate with their clients. The SMS aggregators have service agreement with the mobile companies. Using the system, some people spread anti-state message as it reaches a targeted but large number of people,” he said.

He said the BTRC asked the mobile phone operators to automate their content filtering system.

The officials of the mobile phone companies, however, said the BTRC move to hold operators responsible was unjustified.

“How come the mobile operators are liable in this case? We sell bulk-SMS to clients; what message they are sending is not our concern,” a senior official of a mobile company told Dhaka Tribune, seeking anonymity.

“For example, if any person buys a SIM from my company and use that mobile number for extortion, the company cannot be liable for extortion,” he argued.

He said the commission in collaboration with law enforcing agencies should directly go after the people abusing the bulk-SMS system.

"The mobile phone operators will lend any help needed,” he added.