The News‎ > ‎

South Africa's National Opt Out

posted Jan 29, 2013, 4:07 AM by Leigh Williams
Recently I've been receiving a lot of spam phone calls again from random organizations asking me to buy random stuff I don't want or need. Being an Android user I've grown accustomed to the Call Blocking feature, but one cannot always block private numbers as sometimes clients or someone you actually need to talk to block their numbers for legitimate reasons.
The latest call I got was from some company trying to sell me Medical Aid GAP cover. I like the medical aid GAP cover. For a small fee per month it does give some peace of mind, but the way this telemarketer tried to force it on me really pushed me over the edge. After saying 3 times, in a very polite manner, that I am not interested, she just kept on talking and talking and talking...Opt Out register here I come!

So I did some research on the opt out register, and I found a few problems with it:
1.) Only companies that are part of the DMASA (Direct Marketing Association of South Africa) are required to use this database. So if I run a telemarketing company from my garage selling a bunch of randomness, I can still do it. I also probably won't remove you from my "do not contact" list when you ask me to or I will write it down on a piece of paper that will eventually get lost.

2.) This was the kicker that made me decide to not sign up on the National Opt Out register. In 2011 there was a major data breach. Around 39 000 people who registered on this site got their data stolen, including physical address, cell phone number, ID number etc. This is the identity thieve's dream!
The process for distributing this database was most probably implemented over a weekend as a rush job to meet deadlines. The database will be exported as an encrypted XLS file. The password would be sent to another email address (and maybe a different communications medium). Each month a new password is sent out. These emails are tracked so when you forward them the DMASA guys will know, but there are many ways to circumvent this.
Now there is a way to track which member leaked this information, but your information is already out there.

In 2011 it was confirmed that the DMASA will implement a new secure process very quickly, but my confidence in them is still a bit bruised. I guess I will wait a few more months and keep and eye on the news to see what happens.