Friday, January 7, 2011
Today, a client called in, asking about SMS legal compliance. Specifically, what’s out there that explains what the rules are as when it comes to SMS (short message service – aka text messaging)? Here’s a very brief roundup.
Turns out, the law is pretty straight forward when it comes to unsolicited SMS messaging. The courts have repeatedly held that the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) prohibits unsolicited SMS messaging. There’s also effectively a private right of action – meaning that individuals can sue you for SMS spam. (In the email world, in the US, only an ISP or state attorney general can sue a spammer.)
Wikipedia has a very simple and straightforward article titled “Mobile Phone Spam” where they talk about various enforcement efforts under US law.
There are also a few pretty well known plaintiffs out there who have made a name for themselves by going after the bad guys. The one that most easily springs to mind is Rodney Joffe. Read about his lawsuit against an SMS spammer here.
And finally, look for more legal action against companies sending SMS spam in the near future. This MediaPost article from January 4 explains that “U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Seattle ruled last week that the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which has been interpreted to require that companies obtain users' ‘prior express consent’ before sending them text ads, is not too vague to be enforced.” This could clear the way for a potential class-action lawsuit relating to SMS spam.