California Assemblyman Will Introduce Wireless-Spam Bill

California State Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, plans to introduce legislation that would make it illegal for marketers to send spam to cell phone users in his state.

Though Leslie concedes the problem of wireless spam has not yet “gotten out of hand,” he said he is introducing the legislation to “nip it in the bud.” He also said wireless spam can be more costly than e-mail spam because many cell phone service providers charge users if they receive too many messages in a month.

A wireless-spam bill already has been proposed at the federal level. The Wireless Telephone Spam Protection Act was sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt, D-NJ, in September 2000 and was referred the next month to the House subcommittee on telecommunications, trade and consumer protection, where it languished.

The act is actually an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934 and seeks to “prohibit the use of text, graphic, or image messaging systems of wireless telephone systems to transmit unsolicited commercial messages.”

As worded, critics say, the legislation not only would make spam illegal, but also would prevent the transmission of legitimate marketing messages. They said a more effective tactic would be to build anti-spam protections into the burgeoning wireless infrastructure.

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