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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 4 March, 2003, 01:18 GMT
New rules tackle text adverts
Child with mobile phone
Junk texts are now common
Companies sending text message or e-mail adverts will have to get the permission of users before they do so under new rules.

Regulations on new media have now been included in the latest edition of the code of advertising practice, which has been updated to include new media.

Rules on alcohol and motoring advertisements have also been tightened.

There has been a sharp increase in complaints about text messages, according to the Advertising Standards Authority, which administers the rules covering non-broadcast advertising and marketing.

One urged the recipient to report to an army recruitment centre. Others have come in the guise of personal messages.

Commonly texts dupe people into phoning premium rate numbers. One method is to send a romantic message from an mystery admirer.

Sign of the times

Mobile firms have previously considered taking action against senders of unsolicited texts, with Orange blocking the numbers of advertisers who have been complained about.

Unsolicited e-mails must also make it clear they are selling something, without recipients having to open them.

"It's a sign of the times that the code of advertising practice now includes text and e-mail advertising and demonstrates the strength of feeling against unnecessary junk messages," said Duncan Ingram, Managing Director of BT Openworld.

"ISPs and mobile phone operators themselves still have a very clear responsibility to protect their customers from spam, so we'll continue to do everything we can to keep it to a minimum."

Pop-up rules

Many of the spam e-mails most bitterly complained about originate from outside the UK.

The new code also covers banner and pop-up advertising on the internet, though not a company's claims on its own website.

Alcohol advertisements may no longer suggest that drinking can overcome boredom, loneliness or other problems.

And the rule which stops car advertisers encouraging anti-social or irresponsible driving has been strengthened - now they must not even condone bad driving.

Texting troubles teachers
03 Mar 03 |  Scotland

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