The #StopTheAirtimeLoot campaign started by TechGh24 and #SQUEAKGH is fast gaining grounds in the country as renown Ghanaians thought leader, Bright Simons puts his weight behind it.
The first digital flyer put out by TechGh24 to drive the campaign, was to urge Ghanaians to “Be your own protector and check regularly if you have been signed on to any value-added service (VAS) without your consent”.
The flyer then provided the designated short codes for checking: MTN – *175#; Vodafone – *463# and AirtelTigo – *100#.
Bright Simons posted the flyer on his Twitter handle and added his voice to the campaign calling on Ghanaians to be vigilant and following the campaign message in their own interest.
The tweet described the so-called value-added service providers who uses the links of telcos to sign people on without their consent as “hustlers”, saying that Ghanaians are not the only victims of these “hustlers” but the canker is also pervasive in Nigeria, Kenya and other African countries.
Indeed, since TechGh24 started the campaign several Ghanaians who followed the campaign instruction have sent screenshots of VAS subscriptions on their phones for which they had no clue until the campaign exposed the matter.
At least one persons found 12 hidden subscriptions on his phone, while several others found between one and seven subscriptions on their phones.
The most notorious looting subscriptions are NAVARA, VUCLIP GAMES, HEALTH & FITNESS, SELFIE STAR, GAMES PORTAL, and many more. And all three top telcos, MTN, Vodafone and AirtelTigo are guilty of the offense.
Most of these VAS content are from providers sitting outside of the country, particular India, and being used by the local telcos to sign Ghanaians on remotely without their consent.
The fees they charge are between GHS0.17 to as high as GHS2.02 per day for VAS content that bring no value to the subscriber victimized in the process.
The National Communications Authority’s Unsolicited Electronic Communication Code require telcos to seek the consent of subscribers before signing them on, and to also protect them from being exploited.
But the telcos have ceded their role of signing on subscribers to VAS content to their VAS partners, most of which sit outside the country and have no regard for the laws in Ghana.
Some of these overseas VAS providers even put VAS links on Porn Sites and other websites and when subscribers visit those sites, they get signed on without even knowing they have been signed on.
Whereas telcos are supposed to protect their subscribers against such abuses, they don’t because a greater part of the loot goes to them while the VAS providers get to keep just between 30 to 40%. So the telcos are the biggest beneficiaries and that is why they are relaxed on the conduct of their VAS partners.
When they get exposed, they often play the blame game – telcos point fingers at VAS providers, while VAS providers also point fingers at telcos.
It is time for the National Communications Authority to get proactive with implementing the law instead of sitting back and waiting for individuals to file specific complaints before they act.
The #StopTheAirtimeLoot campaign is therefore designed to bring the issues to fore, with evidence of the multiple VAS content on people’s phone as motivation for NCA to wake up and begin to make some regulatory intervention.