Bill Outlawing Unsolicited Text Message Ads Gets Final Legislative OK

iphone texting smartphoneLegislation to prohibit advertisers from sending unwelcome and unsolicited text advertisements to consumers was approved 37-0 Thursday by the Senate, giving it final legislative approval. The bill was sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Daniel R. Benson, Benjie Wimberly and Bob Andrzejczak.

“Unwanted text messages not only tax consumers’ patience, but they are a drain on cell minutes and bank accounts,” said Moriarty (D-Gloucester/Camden). “Just as telephone customers have been able to close their homes to unwanted telemarketing calls, cell customers should be able to be free of unwanted text ads. What we’re trying to do here is assist consumers in avoiding unnecessary charges as a result of receiving messages that are unsolicited and over which the user has no control.”

“For individuals with a limited data plan, receiving a large number of unsolicited text messages may force them to rack up unwanted charges on their cell phone bill,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “The growing number of complaints regarding unwanted text advertisements can no longer be ignored. Cell phone users deserve basic protections against business practices that cause headaches and cost them money.”

“The bill prohibits the sending of an unsolicited advertisement by means of a text message to a resident of New Jersey if it may cause the recipient to incur a telecommunications charge or a usage allocation deduction,” said Wimberly (D-Passaic/Bergen). “The bill requires the recipient’s express permission, including the number to which text message advertisements may be sent, before any unsolicited advertisements may be sent.”

“This is all about protecting the consumer,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Cumberland/Atlantic). “Besides being annoyances, these text messages can be costly, at no fault of the consumer. This law is common sense in this day and age.”

The bill prohibits sending unsolicited advertising by text messaging, and requires companies offering text messaging services to allow customers to block all incoming and outgoing text messages.

Under the bill (A-617), violators would be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each subsequent violation, collectible by the Attorney General.

The bill now goes to the governor.

[TLS]

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