Lawmakers Purpose Strict Legislation On SMS Advertisements In New Jersey

Two New Jersey Senators have set their sights on unsolicited text message advertising by purposing legislation that would heavily fine those who violate consumer privacy restrictions. The two lawmakers, Sen. Joseph Vitale and Sen. Sean Kean, argue that unsolicited SMS advertising is proving very costly for consumers and have decided to sponsor legislation that would …   Read More

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Lawmakers Purpose Strict Legislation On SMS Advertisements In New JerseyTwo New Jersey Senators have set their sights on unsolicited text message advertising by purposing legislation that would heavily fine those who violate consumer privacy restrictions.

The two lawmakers, Sen. Joseph Vitale and Sen. Sean Kean, argue that unsolicited SMS advertising is proving very costly for consumers and have decided to sponsor legislation that would provide stiff penalties for violators, especially if they knew – or should have known – the consumer receiving the ads was a senior citizen or someone with a disability.

Violators would face fines put forth in the state’s Consumer Fraud Act, were first offenses could cost offenders as much as $10,000, while fines for subsequent violations could reach as much as $20,000.  If the violators knew – or “should have known” – that the victim is a senior citizen or someone with disability, they could be fined as much as $30,000.

The purposed laws are aimed squarely at larger bulk SMS providers and have stipulations, for example, that allows for someone who sends only one such text message during a 12-month period to not be liable under the measure.  It would, however, require telecommunications firms that sell or offer text messaging services in New Jersey to allow consumers the option to block all incoming and outgoing text messages.

“When a telecommunications customer goes over their allotted text messages in a month, the additional fees charged by telecommunications carriers can add up very quickly,” Vitale said. “But particularly when it comes to unsolicited text messaging, the consumer may be footing the bill for advertisers to intrude on their own private mobile devices. That simply doesn’t seem fair.”

The laws 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- a problem that many consumers face when bombarded with SMS ads, especially if they’re unaware of how it all works.  The two lawmakers define 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.

As more and more legislation is introduced on a state and local level regarding consumer privacy via SMS advertising, national attention will undoubtedly follow.  This type of strict regulation is needed not only to protect consumers, but to also protect mobile marketers who comply and adhere with all appropriate rules, regulations and best practices.

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