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Mxit opt-out service signs up 32 000

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TrustFabric, which created South Africa’s first independently run direct marketing opt-out list has launched a mobile version of its opt-out service on MXit, with 32,000 registrations within the first ten days.

Many South Africans are frustrated with random sales calls and daily SMS spam. The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) gives South Africans the right to block direct marketing by adding their contact details to an Opt-Out list, but an official National Opt-out list is yet to be appointed.

TrustFabric launched its mobile service on 1 April, exactly one year after the CPA came into effect.

There are two out-out lists in South Africa. The other list is operated by the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and contained 39000 records when it was reported as leaked last year.

Last year the National Consumer Council (NCC) decided against appointing the DMASA’s list as the official list after many South Africans wrote to the NCC, expressing their concern with the conflict of interest in giving a group of direct marketing companies control the national opt-out list.

The NCC estimates the cost of building its own opt-out service to be in the order of R5m and so far has taken no action to build an opt-out service because of funding constraints, leaving the process in limbo and leaving citizens without the protections against direct marketing which are defined in the CPA.

Should the NCC recognise the TrustFabric list as the official national out-out list, direct marketing companies will be legally forced to check if a number is on the opt-out list before they are allowed to phone or SMS people.

TrustFabric’s Opt-Out list never shares any contact details with marketing companies, but rather lets them upload a batch of numbers they plan to contact and filters their lists based on user preferences.

TrustFabric submitted a proposal to the NCC to operate the national out-out list last year. The service is free for all citizens and was developed without any costs to government. After the recent rapid growth in opt-out registrations TrustFabric will approach the NCC again to appoint the TrustFabric list as the official National Opt-Out list.

“We have registered about the same number of users in 10 days as the DMASA’s service managed to do in 5 years. It’s clear from the numbers that people are frustrated with spam. By making our opt-out service more accessible using Mxit and mobile phones, a much wider group of citizens are now able to block direct marketing,”” says Joe Botha, CEO of TrustFabric.

“”We are very happy with the rate at which users are joining the service. Mxit users have proven to be very passionate supporters of good cause,”” says Botha.

TrustFabric also operates a Child Protect service which offers marketing companies a way to avoid sending adult content like alcohol and tobacco marketing to minors. This service works in a similar way to the opt-out service, but simply checks if a mobile number belongs to a user over 18 years old.

People can join the TrustFabric Opt-out service in three ways: by using Mxit and adding the “”TrustFabric”” contact or by using the Mxit mobi site: http://mxit.im/, or by using the TrustFabric website: http://www.trustfabric.com/

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