New Jersey Wants To Stop Unsolicited Text Message Ads

New Jersey isn’t content with going after unsolicited junk mail checks and credit card offers–it appears to be aiming for Least Friendly Junk Marketing State in the Union. The latest target: marketers who send out unsolicited text messages.

From the ABC News and the Associated Press:

The measure sponsored by Vitale, D-Woodbridge, and Sen. Sean Kean, R-Wall, would bar the sending of unsolicited ads by text messaging if they cause recipients to pay fees or if they reduce the number of text messages allotted by their telecommunications provider.

It defines an unsolicited ad as any message sent without the recipient’s express prior permission that encourages the purchase of, rental of or investment in any form of merchandise, including services.

Fines could start as high as $10,000, and if the marketer knew or should have known (?) that the recipient is a senior citizen or has a disability, it can go as high as $30,000.

There’s one loophole in the proposed legislation, however. “someone who sends only one such text message during a 12-month period would not be liable under the measure.”

“NJ Lawmakers Target Unsolicited Text Message Ads” [ABC News]


Edit Your Comment

  1. AJ_Syrinx says:

    What can I say? Go Jersey!

  2. katstermonster says:

    Wow, I mean, Jersey may smell (and I spent many, MANY hours stuck on the Turnpike the other day, so I would know), but they’re getting something right! Yahoo!

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Let me guess, Exit 13ish? Cuz my area smells nice. Well, except the part round my back yard where the manure dumpster is.

      • katstermonster says:

        Well, exit 7 through the GW bridge. The drive from Hanover, MD to Hartford(ish), CT took about 10.5 hours. (And before anyone says “You should have taken the Tappan Zee,” that was backed up, too. Everyone was. Google Maps on the phone, kids.)

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

          Well, still little upset you didn’t stop by. I’m right off 195, which is accessible from I95.

        • Blueskylaw says:

          You have to plan your drive so that you get through the GWB before 7AM otherwise you get stuck in a hellhole of Manhattan traffic.

    • Preyfar says:

      Yes, that would be Newark or Camden. :)

    • tbax929 says:

      I read so many things about how awful New Jersey is, but I found it to be quite lovely, at least the areas in which I hung out – Blackwood was nice. Trenton was nice. I don’t get why so many people dump on Jersey.

      I got lost once in Newark, and that was scary – but no scarier than being lost in Detroit, which has also happened to me.

      • H3ion says:

        Q. What is the difference between Newark and the Fresh Kills Landfill?

        A. Someday Fresh Kills will be inhabitable.

    • H3ion says:

      Q. What is the difference between Newark and the Fresh Kills Landfill?

      A. Someday, Fresh Kills will be inhabitable.

  3. Fineous K. Douchenstein says:

    The real problem here is that cell providers charge people for receiving unsolicited texts.

    Really? I get charged because someone sent a text to a wrong number?

  4. ZaPookie4193 says:

    Good for Jersey! I think companies are only hurting themselves by using these invasive advertising methods…

  5. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    New classified ad:

    HELP WANTED: Make money by texting! No experience required! We will pay you to send our text message. You will use our mass-text software. Must not have sent a mass-market text in the past 12 months. Contact….”

  6. Unstupid says:

    “Fines could start as high as $10,000, and if the marketer knew or should have known (?) that the recipient is a senior citizen or has a disability, it can go as high as $30,000.”

    Yes… because disabled senior citizens are much more susceptible to text messaging ads!!! ???

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      You’d be surprised. All of those terrible “joke of the day” texts didn’t arrive because Grandpa was savvy about his cell phone. It’s very possible for the elderly to hit a few buttons after getting one of these, whether they thought it was just funny (and free), or if they mistook it for a relative’s text. After they (even accidentally) enroll, it’s up to the people paying the bills to figure it out.

    • thebt1 says:

      The senior and disabled provision was likely added in an attempt to further crack down on text message scams that target the elderly. I believe that similar laws are in place for telemarketers. I wouldn’t be surprised if the elderly or those with mental disabilities are much more susceptible to scams, so there is nothing wrong in punishing the perpetrators more. While not all spam leads to scam, anecdotally, much of the text message spam I get seems very scammy.

  7. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    The loophole makes the legislation worthless.

    • Skipweasel says:

      I’d think so. You just have to have a sheaf of disposable entities to make calls from. One a day, ditch it, move on.

  8. 2 replies says:

    Aren’t text messages covered by the do-not-call list?

    • Rickbowe says:

      Text messages are covered by both the do not call list and the Can Spam act, but locating the guilty party and obtaining convictions when the Public gateways were used is very difficult.
      Also keep in mind that some web-sites allow your friends to provide your phone number and to add you to the list. This sidesteps both the do not call list and the can spam act.

      Where short codes require you to Opt-in.

  9. H3ion says:

    Don’t know why this wouldn’t post before. I think I may have a consumer complaint with The Consumerist.

    Q. What is the difference between Newark and the Fresh Kills Landfill?

    A. Someday, Fresh Kills will be inhabitable.

    • H3ion says:

      Sorry folks. I don’t know what’s going on. Sometimes it posts and sometimes it doesn’t and sometimes it just sits and waits. I’m sorry for the repetition. Actually, it maligned Fresh Kills.

  10. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Spam text messages and robo calls could easily go away, if the wireless companies got off their lazy asses and did something about it.

    Google Voice allows you to block all calls and SMS, except for the numbers in your contact list. I don’t see why the wireless companies can’t do this also.

  11. Rickbowe says:

    This legislation would place a new expense on the carriers and could result in higher fees to those they still pay a per message fee. Legislation should concentrate on closing the Public Gateways requiring that all Text Messages be sent either in a peer to peer or short code format. The public gateways allow the messages to be sent directly from urls or directly from email addresses and are almost always one way. The end users can not respond or opt out directly from their phones. The FCC, CTIA and MMA rules,regulations and best practices protect the end-users from these types of text messages and allow the end-user to opt-out directly from their phones by simply replying STOP, END, QUIT, CANCEL or UNSUBSCRIBE.
    Each short code is individually provisioned by each cell carrier and audited on a monthly basis. All companies using the short codes pay huge fees for each code and a per message fee to the carrier, not the case with the public gateways.

  12. kokopelli says:

    I actually canceled my SMS on my iPhone because I kept receiving spam messages. I decided not to pay the extra $5 per month to AT&T for text messaging. I still liked having it for emergencies (paying the $0.20 per message if I needed it). But after getting 3 junk messages in one day, I turned it off. I agree that the loophole is ridiculous.

  13. sqlrob says:

    Wouldn’t this already be covered by TCPA?