New legislation aims to squash text spam

New federal legislation would make it illegal for marketers to send text messages to numbers registered with the Federal Trade Commission's Do Not Call Registry, action that again highlights the nascent but potentially explosive issue of mobile spam.

According to InternetNews.com, Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Bill Nelson, D-Fla., introduced the m-SPAM Act to expand the regulatory authority of the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to cover text message spam. (The Do Not Call Registry is primarily aimed at telemarketing calls.)

According to the Library of Congress' online legislation search service, Snowe and Nelson introduced S.788--"A bill to prohibit unsolicited mobile text message spam"--April 2, though the full text of the bill is not yet available online.

A CTIA representative declined to comment on the new bill. A representative from the Mobile Marketing Association was not immediately available to comment.

Despite this latest case, the issue is by no means new. In January AT&T Mobility caused a stir when it sent out text messages promoting the "American Idol" TV show to a "significant number" of its 75 million customers, according to The New York Times.

And just a few weeks ago, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA announced an agreement to incorporate their mobile marketing guidelines within consumer best practices outlined by the MMA.

Indeed, the wireless industry has for years been keenly concerned about mobile spam. Most of the nation's major wireless carriers currently allow subscribers to control their text message services, and provide online tools to block all such messages.

And groups including the MMA and CTIA have worked to educate both consumers and marketers about the potentially fine line between solicited and unsolicited text messages. Further, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA and other carriers have taken legal action against spammers, both of the telemarketing and text messaging variety.

Nonetheless, the issue continues to cycle into the spotlight. A 2007 survey found 64 percent of respondents admitted to annoyance with marketing offers received from mobile operators, with 70 percent of subscribers finding the offers in question irrelevant.

For more:
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MMA: One in four U.S. users interested in mobile marketing

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