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FCC May Consider Whether Unsolicited Email To Text On Mobile Phones Is Legal

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Wednesday, October 24 2012

The Federal Communications Commission opened a proceeding on Tuesday to determine whether e-mails sent to phones as texts should be subject to its rules that protect consumers from unsolicited messages on their mobile phones.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which is enforced by the FCC, prohibits unsolicited automated text messages. But some firms get around that by sending messages as e-mails to wireless phones.

Mobile political text-messaging firm Revolution Messaging, has been petitioning the FCC for the past three years to consider the matter.

"Our team at Revolution Messaging has been working on this issue for over 3 years, and are excited to finally see a clear end to the mass amount of political text message spam that keeps creeping up in the final days of a heated election," said the company's founder Scott Goodstein in an e-mailed statement on the development. "We are excited that the FCC is going expedite our petition for a clarification and declaratory ruling of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and hope this puts an end to unsolicited text messages that appear in the 11th hour of a political battle from an un-known source and cost consumers money while spreading mistruths"

One example of what Goodstein's referring to was reported last month by the Los Angeles Times. Voters in Virginia have been receiving anonymous, spoofed messages spreading erroneous campaign messages about Democratic senatorial candidate Tim Kaine's tax policies. Kaine has called for a criminal investigation, but as the Times points out, it's not clear under current law whether the practice is illegal.

The FCC's proceeding isn't going to affect this election, however. The commission has simply asked for a round of comments from the public, which is how the commission typically opens a proceeding. The first round of comments are due November 23rd. The second round of reply comments are due December 10.