Like biological warfare, the carriers of spam roll through China’s neighborhoods spreading pestilence indiscriminately. While not always quite so dramatic (cold calls have long been a sales strategy) today’s spammers are using devices to intersect nearby mobile calls and reply with an onslaught of solicitous text messaging and single-ring phone calls that are often crooked.
Curbing phone spammers before these devises were in play was mostly left to the steep price of sending out thousands or millions of messages, but now they have infiltrated daily life. Acting on the part of advertisers, salesmen, opportunists and even tricksters, they can lead to computer viruses and cyber and personal security breaches. Plus, they’re just plain annoying.
Complaints are consistently on the high side even though public agencies and telecommunication companies have long promised to curb spam proliferation. A Shanghai man did recently win a whopping 1,000 yuan in compensation from a Chinese bank due to excessive commercial texts, but results have been less than obvious.
With spam message and calls, you might not be taken in, but our parents can be easily conceived with fake news of our kids having a car accident.
–Most Beautiful Moon (Weibo user)
I am so often bothered by messages recommending gambling websites in Macao, and they’re possible viruses.
–Mr. Luobo (Weibo user)
I can’t remember how many times I’ve received messages with links to porn sites.
–Kehui Big Panda (Weibo user)
In a recent Annual Report of Mobile Security from Mobile Guards, an application developed by Chinese search-engine giant Baidu, spam messages accounted for 45.4 billion of the total messages sent, with peaks in January and September. Other sources are much higher, even.
And while there may be nowhere to hide (some locals are scared to so much as write a number down for cashiers when charging SIM cards, thinking the list will be sold) the only way to fight back is to band together and send as many as possible to the “Blackhole List” of known spammers by using programs that already exist.
Easy as 12321
The job of 12321, the Network Spam Information Report Center, which falls under the purview of the Internet Society of China (ISC), is to archive reports of spamming, phishing, false sites, telephone harassment and other types of network rubbish, prepare the data to be analyzed and prepping it for investigation.
Remember: this process will be a little slow; it takes time to classify, analyze and report to the corresponding department. But the more data that is compiled the harder it is for spammers to operate.
According to the latest reports from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, a government agency that has provided guidance to 12321, the report center received 56,617 complaints in 2014, dropping by 17 percent from the year before. That’s about 33 complaints for every million users.
Call It In
There are three major telecom operators in China, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. Despite the fact that phone companies block some by censoring group messaging systems, they have no way to prohibit the sending of messages, but they have made rules to limit them.
All SIM cards are allowed only 200 messages per hour and 500 messages per day, and if detection discovers too many messages within a short time and complaints are registered, a temporary suspension will be issued. If the SIM card is found to be involved in fraud, the three major operators will take action or inform the police department. So when you get junk messages or harassment calls, report them.