Mobile Phone Anti-Spam Bill Introduced

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ever get a text message you didn't want, from a company you never heard of?  In a bi-partisan effort, two senators just as angry as other cell phone users want to put a stop to mobile spam and have proposed legislation.

Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) introduced the m-SPAM Act of 2009 Thursday. According to its wording on, the bill would grant the Federal Communications and Federal Trade Commissions more power to control unsolicited text messages, and would prohibit commercial text messages to wireless numbers listed on the National Do-Not-Call registry.

"Mobile spam invades both a consumer's cell phone and monthly bill," Snowe said in a statement. "There is also increasing concern that mobile spam will become more than just an annoyance -- the viruses and malicious spyware that are often attached to traditional spam will most likely be more prevalent on wireless devices through m-spam." 

Snowe cites statistics that wireless users in the U.S. received more than 1.1 million spam text messages in 2007, up 38 percent from 2006, reports PC World.  Though Ferris Research called it a "minor problem" compared to email spam, the increase is an issue for millions of cell phone users. The wireless association CTIA reports use of text messaging increased 130 percent from June 2006 to June 2007.

"Spam e-mail is bad enough," Nelson also said in a statement. "Now, we are seeing a proliferation of unwanted text messages -- and consumers are getting stuck paying."

Some mobile subscribers wind up paying 20 cents for each text message received and sent, though some providers will allow users to block text messages from specific senders.

With the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, the FCC adopted regulations to prohibit the sending of unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to wireless devices without permission, but that bill does not cover SMS messages, according to CNET.

Also, like email, mobile spam has been used as a means of phishing for personal information from cell phone users.