If you are the proud owner of a cell phone, you have probably experienced some form of SPAM: unwanted text messages or voice mails. As a matter of fact, according to a recent Bloomberg article, the number of SPAM text messages in the U.S. reached 4.5 billion in 2011. Consumer concerns are growing so much that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) resurrected a special team just to investigate some 2,600 complaints about mobile texts last year. Spammers are able to deploy a large volume of text messages or calls and at a very rapid pace. Last March, AT&T filed a lawsuit stating that 20 million illegal phone calls were made using just 14 phone numbers.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), there are two laws which protect consumers from receiving these messages. The first is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The second is the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act.
The FCC further states that “the CAN-SPAM Act defines commercial messages as those that primarily advertise or promote a commercial product or service. The FTC’s ban does not cover “transactional or relationship” messages — that is, notices to facilitate a transaction you have already agreed to — for example, messages that provide information about your existing account or warranty information about a product you’ve purchased.”
As mobile marketing continues to grow in popularity, marketers have an obligation to know, respect, and understand the regulatory issues surrounding this medium.
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