MMA Releases Update to Mobile Marketing Best Practices

May 24, 2011

The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), a mobile industry trade group representing over 750 companies, recently released its latest update (version 6.1) of its “U.S. Consumer Best Practices Guidelines,” which provides a compilation of mobile industry best practices, policies and regulatory guidance in connection with marketing matters using mobile technology.  The document  focuses on consumer protection and privacy to ensure that mobile users have a good user experience on the theory that what is good for the consumer is good for the industry. 

While at first glance the document may appear to be technical in nature, it actually breaks down recommended practices and wireless carrier policies in a methodical and straightforward manner that makes the Guidelines quite useful as a reference point in preparing or fine tuning marketing programs and related legal terms and conditions.

PDF of Guidelines:  MMA Consumer Best Practices (Version 6.1)


Social Media and Debt Collectors

May 23, 2011

Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), debt collectors are restricted in the manner in which they may seek to collect a debt.  Among those restrictions are strict limits on communications with debtors and avoiding deception in those communications.   An article on the use of social media by debt collectors that I read last week in the American Banker (article access may require a subscription), which does a pretty good job covering technology issues related to the financial and payments industry, focused my attention on this topic as an example of how business practices involving social media raise questions on what should be allowed. 

If we think of social media applications as simply variations of other communications tool, there should not be much difficulty in analyzing whether the FDCPA rules apply to social media when used by debt collectors  — generally speaking, the rules should apply.  Yet, the extent to which the FDCPA limits social media use by debt collectors is an open issue in some circles.  So, much so that as the American Banker article mentioned above reports that a court in Florida recently issued an order restraining a debt collector from contacting a debtor via Facebook.  As another example, see a story on The Consumerist website reports a particularly interesting and extensive use of Facebook by a debt collection agency to friend unsuspecting debtors and thereby collect information that might otherwise not be available to the collectors.   

Expect the states and the FTC to step into what appears to be something of a void — putting aside whether it should even be regarded as that.  On April 28, the FTC held a day-long public workshop entitled “Debt Collection 2.0:  Protecting Consumers As Technologies Change”, for which the period to submit additional public comments runs through May 27.   Given all this, it is likely that the FTC will either recommend a regulatory framework or step up its own enforcement actions based on its authority to investigate unfair and deceptive trade practices.

Graphics Credit: Terinea IT Support on Flickr


Innovation Comes In Many Forms

May 22, 2011

Innovation frequently is the result of looking at an old problem in a new way.  Case in point, although far removed from the realm of technology, is an anecdote related in an article from last weekend’s The New York Times Magazine about Yukon Territory residents Shawn Ryan and Cathy Wood, who are among those leading the charge for what is turning into another Canadian gold rush.  

While the article’s author, Gary Wolf, who is also a contributing editor for Wired magazine, focuses most of his attention on their ups and downs at prospecting, the innovative resourcefulness of this couple is best summed up by the following excerpt:

“It is tough to be penniless in Dawson in the winter. Wood cleaned some houses and served as court bailiff when the judge came to town, but in February 1993, they were down to their last $5. At the employment center, Wood saw a notice for a job removing the snow from the roof of Diamond Tooth Gerties, the local casino, which opened for a brief winter season coinciding with a dog-sled race. The job was usually taken on by a team of local residents for thousands of dollars. Wood bid 500. Townspeople came out to see how the low bidders were going to do it. She and Ryan cleared the edges of the roof with shovels, then Ryan climbed to the top and jumped up and down like a monkey. Gravity did the rest. The expressions of surprise on the faces of the onlookers made Wood laugh. People in Dawson had to acknowledge that for people at the bottom of the status hierarchy — and there aren’t many rungs beneath mushroom picker — they had some unmistakable gifts.”

 Link:  Gary Wolf, “Gold Mania in the Yukon,” NY Times Magazine (May 15, 2011) 

Photo Credit: Finlay MacKay, NY Times