Senators introduce bill to limit mobile spam

Legislation sets new restrictions on sending commercial text messages to cell phones

Two U.S. senators yesterday introduced a bill aimed at attacking a growing problem: unsolicited commercial text messages sent to cell phones, also known as mobile spam.

The m-Spam Act, which was proposed by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), would strengthen the powers of the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to fight mobile spam. The measure also would prohibit commercial organizations from sending text messages to cell phone numbers that are listed in the National Do-Not-Call Registry.

"Mobile spam invades both a consumer's cell phone and monthly bill," Snowe said in a statement. "There is also increasing concern that mobile spam will become more than just an annoyance — the viruses and malicious spyware that are often attached to traditional spam will most likely be more prevalent on wireless devices through m-spam."

According to Snowe, mobile users in the U.S received about 1.1 million spam text messages in 2007, up 38% from the year before. In some cases, mobile subscribers have to pay up to 20 cents for each text message sent or received, although some mobile service providers allow their customers to block text messages in order to avoid spam.

"Spam e-mail is bad enough," Nelson said as part of the announcement about the new bill. "Now we are seeing a proliferation of unwanted text messages — and consumers are getting stuck paying."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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