OMG – Political Mudslinging Reaches Cell Phones
Voters in several key battleground states have reported receiving political text messages from email addresses that use portions of a candidate’s name. This may give the false impression that the message came from that candidate’s campaign.
Annoying? Yes. But is it illegal? That’s unclear for now.
The Federal Communications Commission has explicitly banned the use of automated dialers to send text messages to mobile phones (except where consent was granted or emergencies require). But it appears that some political advertising firms have found a loophole.
In lieu of sending texts from one mobile phone to another, the advertisers are sending emails to the mobile numbers.
Not only do the messages look like text messages, but cell phone companies may charge the recipient as if they are incoming text messages.
For now, the FCC hasn’t addressed this email-to-text trend. And because the messages originate as emails, advertising firms are claiming protection under the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which explicitly exempts political messages from bans on email spam.