Bill would stop unwanted marketing text messages - East Valley Tribune: Politics

Bill would stop unwanted marketing text messages

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Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:53 pm

Those unwanted text messages for everything from special sales to dating services could soon be a thing of the past.

Without dissent, the Senate voted Wednesday to make it illegal for any business to send an unsolicited text if the ultimate goal is to get recipients to buy goods or services. Individual violators could wind up paying fines of $750. But the penalty for a company for the same offense can reach $10,000.

HB 2312 already has been approved by the House, meaning the measure now goes to the governor. If Brewer signs the measure the law would take effect this summer.

The legislation is the direct outgrowth of concerns by lawmakers not only that their constituents are being bothered but that these messages were actually costing them money.

While many cell phone plans include a set number of messages, some do not. The result is the recipients end up with an extra 15 to 25 cents on the monthly bill for every message they never wanted in the first place.

Even if Brewer signs the measure, that does not mean all texts from businesses will disappear.

The legislation has a specific exemption for businesses that have received a ``prior express invitation or permission'' from the cell phone owner. That covers situations where individuals sign up to receive specific offers.

And the measure allows companies that have an ``existing business relationship'' with the recipient to continue to send messages. That could cover a broad array of firms where the cell phone owner has a firm's credit card or other open account.

Existing state law already precludes companies from making "robocalls'' to get people to buy anything.

And the Federal Communications Commission maintains a "do not call'' list which allows individuals to register both landline and cell phone numbers to make them off limits to most unwanted calls.

Both those laws -- as well as this new one -- contain exceptions for political calls and polling.

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