Bill to limit unwanted texts passes Arizona Senate, is sent to governor

Ban on messages, with some exceptions, is sent to governor
2013-04-11T00:00:00Z Bill to limit unwanted texts passes Arizona Senate, is sent to governorHoward Fischer Capitol Media Services Arizona Daily Star
April 11, 2013 12:00 am  • 

PHOENIX - Those unwanted text messages for everything from special sales to dating services could soon be a thing of the past.

Without dissent, the Arizona Senate voted Wednesday to make it illegal for any business to send an unsolicited text if the ultimate goal is to get recipients to buy goods or services. Individual violators could wind up paying fines of $750. But the penalty for a company for the same offense could reach $10,000.

HB 2312 already has been approved by the House, meaning the measure now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer. If she signs it, the law would take effect this summer.

The legislation is the direct outgrowth of concerns by lawmakers not only that constituents are being bothered, but that these messages cost cellphone customers money.

While many cellphone plans include a set number of messages, some do not. The result is the recipients end up with an extra 15 to 25 cents on the monthly bill for every message they never wanted in the first place.

Even if Brewer signs the measure, that does not mean all texts from businesses will disappear.

The legislation has an exemption for businesses that have a "prior express invitation or permission" from the cellphone owner. That covers situations where individuals sign up to receive specific offers.

And the measure allows companies that have an "existing business relationship" with the recipient to continue to send messages. That could cover a broad array of firms where the cellphone owner has a firm's credit card or other open account.

State law already precludes companies from making "robocalls" to get people to buy anything.

And the Federal Communications Commission maintains a "do not call" list, which allows individuals to register both land-line and cellphone numbers to make them off-limits to most unwanted calls.

Both those laws - as well as this new proposed law - contain exceptions for political calls and polling.

On StarNet: Find ways to stop unwanted text messages on your cellphone: azstarnet.com/multimedia

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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