FTC Files First Lawsuit Against ‘Text Spam’


Spam seems to be everywhere these days, and it has now invaded your wireless handheld.

Last month, the Federal Trade Commission filed its first lawsuit ever against an alleged perpetrator of “spam texting” – the practice of sending unsolicited commercial text messages to a large number of people.

The FTC is alleging that Phillip Flora of Huntington Beach, Calif., sent some five million unsolicited commercial texts to wireless handhelds to promote his debt relief and loan modification programs. Flora’s mass texting, according to the FTC, violated the Federal Trade Commission Act because his “acts or practices … are unfair.” Although the allegation may sound vague, a closer review of the FTCA and the FTC’s jurisdiction may show that the case against Flora has a substantial basis in law.

The FTC also charged Flora with other violations of the FTCA as well as of the CAN-SPAM Act, including deceiving consumers by representing a government affiliation and sending commercial e-mails without the required return address and opt-out provisions. The “unfairness” allegation, though, raises the most interesting questions under the law.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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