Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Spammers turn to Cell Phone Text messages to get their message out

Opening up a new front in the war on Spam, those pernicious spammers are going after your cellphone! If you have SMS text messaging or email enabled, you may start getting hundreds of beeps everyday as your cellphone email box gets stuffed with offers for lower mortgage rates, xxx girls, and the ever popular Nigerian plea to launder money.

Spammers are going after your cell phone. And they're going to do it in a major way. The problem is rampant is Europe, Japan and South Korea where the more advanced G3 cell networks are used. Luckily, until now, the U.S. has stayed under the radar because they use the less advanced 2.5 standard. But all that will change as the U.S. transitions to the more advanced standard.

How it's done:
Spammers can get your cellphone number two different ways:
1) Your new cellphone number is a reused number previously on a message list or
2) Cellphone numbers are assigned in blocks. When a spammer figures out the last four numbers of a cellphone number in a particular area code, it can modify the number and spam all the numbers in a block of up to 10,000 phones.

And the worst part is ... unsolicited SMS text messages or cellphone email can cost you for each message if you don't have text messaging or email included in your monthly service plan. Multiply that by the typical amount of spam you get in your regular email box, and you can see those charges adding up!
And you know it's bad when even the Direct Marketing Association, which opposes most email spam legislation, is against the practice of cellphone spam because it imposes costs on the recipient.

Europe has an opt-in law against cellphone spam, Japan has a less effectuve opt-out law, and cellphones are included on Texas' "do not call" list.

State Senator Debra Bowen is working on a new bill to provide citizens the right to sue cellphone spammers for $500 per unsolicited message.

That's a good start, but what needs to happen is getting Congress involved and add cellphone text/email to the National Do Not Call List. So far, Congress is looking at the matter in typical fashion - they're considering passing "opt-out" legislation which Japan is learning does little - if anything.

You can also help by joining CAUCE. The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE) is an ad hoc, all volunteer organization, created by Netizens to advocate for a legislative solution to the problem of SPAM. They're on the forefront in the battle against spam and helped defeat fax-spammers a few years ago. They deserve your support.

You can join free by heading here.


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