Is It Time For a ‘Do Not Text’ Registry?

Is It Time For a 'Do Not Text' Registry?Since 2008, the federal government has had an easy to use website, available to those of us who live in the United States of America, wherein we have the ability to opt out of spam phone calls from telemarketers. Since this time, anyone living in the United States needs only to visit the site, submit a home/ cellphone number, and request that no advertisers call these numbers. While there are always exceptions and/or complaints over all rules, it appears that these do not call lists have worked amazingly well.

However, these same annoying messages have found another way to circumvent the rules. Their senders have found that it is even easier to send spam-type text messages, which, if they are sent to our cellphones, are charged against our available text limits. So, not only are they threatening our sanity, but also our pocketbooks. To me, it would appear that not only do we need to shore up our current no calls registries, but we also need to implement a ‘do not text’ registry.

Here is an assortment of some of the current laws that are on the books.

  • The CAN-SPAM act actually forbids the sending of unsolicited emails to any mobile device, without the owner granting prior authorization to accept commercial advertisements. The problem is that the wording does not specifically mention texting; this is because, when the law was written into statute, texting was not in vogue.
  • The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act that many of us use to block out telemarketers and commercial advertisements only applies to landline and wireless phone numbers. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule — one which we face as the November 2012 Election Day approaches. There is nothing currently on the books to prohibit campaigning politicians, or their staffs, from harassing you for support or financial contributions. This is not surprising, since they are not about to implement any restrictions that would hamper their efforts to garner support for their cause. So, being exempt from this law, they are free to call you whenever they want, whatever time they want, and there is nothing you can do to stop them. But once again, texting is not mentioned in the law, and only phone calls count as being blocked.
  • The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, known as the TCPA, along with the Federal Communications Commission, aka the FCC, specifically prohibits the use of automatic dialers to call any mobile device. Once again, texting is not mentioned.
  • The Federal Trade Commission Act, which basically outlaws deceptive or unfair trade practices, could possibly be construed as an attempt to prohibit text advertising. However, whether a court of law would determine that this law would apply is extremely unlikely.
  • The FCC and its Telephone Fraud and Abuse Act governs how telemarketers practice their trade, but nothing in the act specifies text messages.
  • Another law is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998, which prohibits contacting children under the age of 13 years old without parental consent. Technically, if a marketer sends a text message to a youth 13 years old or younger, they could be violating the law — but text messages are not specifically spelled out in the law.

So, until there is a ‘do not text’ registry, are we are all doomed, possibly until we die, to be subjected to unwanted text messages? Not necessarily. There are ways to circumvent these unwanted messages, but you will need some help from your phone carrier.

Is It Time For a 'Do Not Text' Registry?

Do you know how to text?

We are all aware that Internet service providers employ spam filters to filter out unwanted emails. What most of us do not know is that cellphone companies also have filters to block out SMS spam that can help you keep your phone free of unwanted messages. However, what you don’t want to do is reply to the ‘Stop’ link; this could actually increase the spam you receive, since it confirms to the spammer that they are actually reaching a real person.

Is It Time For a 'Do Not Text' Registry?If you are fortunate enough to own an Android phone, you can also get a free application that will block out unwanted text messages that appear on your phone. One of the applications that you may wish to consider is called Anti SMS Spam & Private Box. This application does a fairly good job of blocking out phone numbers that are not in your contact list or by keyword[s].

For iPhone users, there are also free applications to block out unwanted spam messages. However, you may have to jailbreak your phone to employ one of these non-Apple approved applications. Not being an Apple iPhone user myself, I am not sure exactly how this would be done. I would recommend that Apple iPhone users contact their phone carrier to find out which filtering options are available.

I personally believe that the only way to stop unwanted text messages from telemarketers and spammers is to have a national registry for cellphone users that would block unwanted texts. The registry would be similar to what is in place for landline and cellphone users to block unwanted solicitations on our phones. This would be a positive solution to the problem and would stop those unwanted text messages dead in their tracks.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Article Written by

I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • Alumni72

    Thanks for the tip on the Android app – just recently 9within the past 2 weeks at most) I began receiving unsolicited text messages – ironically (maybe) right after I installed the Avast! app on my phone.  I’ve been wondering if they would stop if I uninstalled Avast!.

  • Pingback: New Video! – Do Not Text « Geeky Bits

  • shadowcat_2

    I think I’M ON The DNC — yet I STILL Get robomessages.

  • Chris Partezana

    If you are a Sprint customer, here are the short codes to block text messages.

    9999 Command Table
    The customer sends a text message to short code address 9999 to block or allow sender addresses. A confirmation text message is received back to the user indicating completion of the request.
    Example: To block a phone number, compose and send a text message to 9999. Type Block 5555551234. Response Text from 9999: SprintFreeMsg: Text messages from “5555551234″ are now blocked.
    The do not have to be entered as part of the command.
    The following commands are available: Text the Following Command to 9999 Resulting Action Response Text Sent Back to the Customer help Provides help message about how to use 9999 short code SprintFreeMsg: Text these commands to 9999 to manage SMS blocking: block, list, spam, help. Text “help ” to learn about each command. help block Provides help message about how to use block command SprintFreeMsg: block : Blocks all texts from and to the sender. Example: block 55555555. Text help sender for more sender formats. help allow Provides help message about how to use allow command SprintFreeMsg: allow : Allows all texts from (and to) the sender. Example: “allow 5555555555″. Text “help sender” for more sender formats. help all Provides help message about the definition of a sender SprintFreeMsg: Sender is a 10 digit number | shortcode | email address | email domain. “email is a special sender used to block or allow all email. help sender Provides help message about the definition of a sender SprintFreeMsg: Sender is a 10 digit number | shortcode | email address | email domain. “email is a special sender used to block or allow all email. help Provides help message about 9999 commands SprintFreeMsg: Text command (block | list | spam | help) to 9999 to manage blocking.. Text “help ” or “help all” to get help messages. block Responds with an error message SprintFreeMsg: The sender you tried to block, “” must be at least 4 characters long. Please try again. block Responds with an error message SprintFreeMsg: The sender you tried to block, “XXX” must be at least 4 characters long. Please try again. block Blocks messages to and from the specified shortcode and removes it from the allow list SprintFreeMsg: Text messages to and from “XXXXX” are now blocked. block Blocks messages to and from the specified MDN and removes it from the allow list SprintFreeMsg: Text messages from and to “XXXXX” are now blocked.
     

  • Chris Partezana

    If you are a Sprint customer, here are the short codes to block text messages.

    9999 Command Table
    The customer sends a text message to short code address 9999 to block or allow sender addresses. A confirmation text message is received back to the user indicating completion of the request.
    Example: To block a phone number, compose and send a text message to 9999. Type Block 5555551234. Response Text from 9999: SprintFreeMsg: Text messages from “5555551234″ are now blocked.
    The do not have to be entered as part of the command.
    The following commands are available: Text the Following Command to 9999 Resulting Action Response Text Sent Back to the Customer help Provides help message about how to use 9999 short code SprintFreeMsg: Text these commands to 9999 to manage SMS blocking: block, list, spam, help. Text “help ” to learn about each command. help block Provides help message about how to use block command SprintFreeMsg: block : Blocks all texts from and to the sender. Example: block 55555555. Text help sender for more sender formats. help allow Provides help message about how to use allow command SprintFreeMsg: allow : Allows all texts from (and to) the sender. Example: “allow 5555555555″. Text “help sender” for more sender formats. help all Provides help message about the definition of a sender SprintFreeMsg: Sender is a 10 digit number | shortcode | email address | email domain. “email is a special sender used to block or allow all email. help sender Provides help message about the definition of a sender SprintFreeMsg: Sender is a 10 digit number | shortcode | email address | email domain. “email is a special sender used to block or allow all email. help Provides help message about 9999 commands SprintFreeMsg: Text command (block | list | spam | help) to 9999 to manage blocking.. Text “help ” or “help all” to get help messages. block Responds with an error message SprintFreeMsg: The sender you tried to block, “” must be at least 4 characters long. Please try again. block Responds with an error message SprintFreeMsg: The sender you tried to block, “XXX” must be at least 4 characters long. Please try again. block Blocks messages to and from the specified shortcode and removes it from the allow list SprintFreeMsg: Text messages to and from “XXXXX” are now blocked. block Blocks messages to and from the specified MDN and removes it from the allow list SprintFreeMsg: Text messages from and to “XXXXX” are now blocked.