How telecoms are stealing from us with one click

never heard of it wap billingWhere “silent charging”? WAP is the acronym for Wireless Application Protocol, i.e. Wireless Application Protocol – a technology that allows mobile phones to access the Internet. So far so good, isn’t it? It turns out that this technology, by which phones “communicate” with “guest sites”, allows these sites to capture and store information about each device that distinguishes it from all others – the MSISDNor International directory number of mobile station subscribers.

This number is fundamental in this story. what does this have to do with those annoying pop-ups that appear more and more when you’re on the net: when you try to get rid of them you can, without realizing it, click in the wrong place – and be the victim of click jackingthat is to say theft by the click.

The same thing happened to my mother, who is 91 and, I learned this Sunday, she had been paying about 8 euros a month on her MEO bill since March for something that was described as “Content – Digital Promotions – Subscription” – without further explanation, and without her noticing, because the payment was made by direct debit.

And unknowingly paying would continue if you hadn’t told me to delete the text messages on your phone. That’s how I came across a letter dated February that said “Playvod (SP) service subscription ended. Price 1.99 euros/week”. A link followed if you wanted to cancel. As I explained to my mother that she should ignore text messages from unknown sources and never click on links, because of scams (Phishing), she ignored what seemed to her to be the same, because, naturally, she had not taken out any subscriptions.

Having with a Google search realized that Playvod is the name of a game provider belonging to the Altice universe, i.e. the company that owns MEO, I started checking my mom’s bills. Noting that the said 1.99 euros per week had been billed to him since March, I called MEO to demand immediate cancellation and reimbursement of the sums billed. The person who answered me even tried this usual bullshit conversation, assuring me that the operator “has no responsibility for this collection, because it belongs to another company”, but ended up doing what it was asked, without however failing to repeat until the end that MEO “limits itself to being an intermediary”. Out of sheer goodness of heart, of course; not receive a share of the proceeds of theft.

It was only after recounting this experience on Twitter that I first read, in the countless replies that told me of similar events, the expression wap billing.

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