On Nov. 3, 2014, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released the draft Administrative Rules for Telecommunication Short Message Services (the Draft Rules) for public comments. The public comment period ended Dec. 5, 2014.
Under the Draft Rules, “short messages” include text, data, voice and images received by mobile phones, fixed phones and other communication terminals, including messages sent on social media platforms. The Draft Rules provide that operators of short message services (SMS) must obtain a telecommunications licence to engage in SMS. Basic telecommunications service operators may not provide network or service access used for SMS providers’ business operations without a license. The Draft Rules aim to set up a regulatory scheme for general short messages, commercial short messages and public service short messages, and provide the policy basis for a spam message management system. Key points of the Draft Rules are summarized below:
- Prohibition of Sharing and Selling of Telephone Numbers. The Draft Rules prohibit any individual or organization from selling, sharing or exchanging others’ telephone numbers collected by any means. Sending messages to such numbers is also prohibited.
- Management of Commercial Messages. Under the Draft Rules, all organizations and individuals are prohibited from sending commercial messages without the receivers’ prior consent, and senders should stop sending messages upon the receivers’ requests. The Draft Rules require that when senders solicit users’ general consent to receive short messages, they must inform users on the content, scope and expiration dates of the messages that will be sent and offer free and convenient ways for people to reject commercial messages.
- Management of Public Service Messages. To send public service messages, relevant agencies above the provincial level should provide relevant information such as the message contents to the telecommunications administrative authority. The telecommunications administrative authority shall coordinate with SMS operators to send such public service messages once it determines that such messages should be categorized as public service messages.
- Establishment of Complaint and Reporting Handling Mechanism. The SMS operators should establish a mechanism to handle user complaints. In addition, MIIT will launch a center to deal with user reports related to SMS.
- Administrative Rules for Telecommunication Short Message Services (Draft for Review)
- Issuing Authority: the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
- Date of Issuance: Nov. 3, 2014 / Effective Date: N/A