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…And the Operators Will Count It As Data Revenue

Posted on Monday 14 June 2004

The wireless tie in to the weekend’s elections in Europe is this: the office of Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi sent out millions of SMS messages to Italian voters Friday night, timed so they would see them before they went to the polls on Saturday. Press reports put the number of messages between 30 and 60 million. The opposition party howled, claiming that the PM had violated both election rules and privacy laws. One UK paper said that under Italian law the government can send out massive numbers of unsolicited SMS messages “in cases of disaster or natural calamities” and “for reasons of public order or public health and hygiene”. Mr. Berlusconi’s office said, “We noted not all Italians were aware of the hours within which they could exercise their right to vote. This initiative was needed to inform the Italian people and make life easier for them.”

The upshot is that most of the messages were received in the middle of the night; I’m sure that the handsets’ owners were pleased to hear from their prime minister, having been awakened by the insistent alarm from their phone. Perhaps the country’s new anti-spam law, enacted by Berlusconi’s administration, will get a quick test.

Results from the election will be known later this week.

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