SMS Spam Law: Road To Marketing Hell Paved With Good Intentions

Speak of the devil. Last week when I wrote about Cloudmark’s SMS spam hype, I thought I made a good case, noting that the majority of marketers follow industry-accepted best practices, and that the price of sending texts will greatly limit SMS spam-senders.

But it’s easy to use fear to cause good intentions to veer to the dark side. “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering” and all. That’s what could happen, though, with a new proposed federal law aimed at curbing SMS spam.

The act, called m-SPAM and introduced by U.S. Senators Olympia Snowe and Bill Nelson, wants to restrain marketers from sending unwanted texts to consumers. No one can argue with that. But the law as proposed could unintentionally harm legitimate marketers–those who only send messages to people who’ve opted in to receive them–and even consumers who wanted those texts offering a coupon, entry to a party, or other discounts or specials.

How would this harm honest mobile marketing campaigns? As our CEO, Jared Reitzin, told Mobile Marketer, “I’m extremely against having wireless numbers on the do-not-call list, it’s absurd… They’re going to charge people to scrub against it? Will they offer APIs we can automatically scrub against? How long is it going to take to get your data back? That will be shot down… Overall the m-SPAM Act is probably a good idea to establish best practices, but not going to stop spam.”

Legislators should work with mobile marketing leaders to create the most effective law, one that will criminalize mobile spammers while supporting the efforts of honest SMS marketers. Carriers should weigh in too, since SMS marketing is one of the reasons why texting has become such a revenue-driver for them. Marketing experts should write to their own Senate and Congressional representatives, explaining what lawmakers need to consider when crafting the federal statute.

Those on the Hill shouldn’t be quick to rush in heavy-handed.

 

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