Legislation Approved To Block Unwanted Text Messages

Feb 8, 2013

State lawmakers are moving to remove at least one small annoyance from the lives of their constituents. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.

Federal regulations let individuals sign up for the Do Not Call list to block robocalls from telemarketers. But for the moment, there is no such service for unwanted text messages. The legislation approved this week by a House panel would make it illegal - with a $10,000 penalty - for companies to use automated systems to send texts trying to sell goods or services.

The legislation drew objections from Jerry Fuentes, the local vice president of AT&T, who defended the messages. Fuentes said, "we have certain sorts of services for example, I'm in a store and I buy a service or a produce. We'll send a test message to them asking about their experience: did they have a good customer experience? Were they treated friendly? All their questions were answered."

But Representative Bob Thorpe said it's not just that unsolicited messages are irritating. He said some customers do not have plans which include texts, meaning each unwanted one can cost a quarter. "So for those individuals to receive unwanted messages, definitely an annoyance, but also very expensive. And the remedy for them is to change their plan or each time they receive an unwanted message to then spend 10-15 minutes on the telephone having that 25 cent charge removed from their bill."

And, Thorpe said that's hardly an answer.