New Form of Voter Suppression and Dirty Politics Clogging Up Cell phones in Michigan
WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is being targeted by the latest practice of voter suppression in the form of political text message spam. Progressive organization Revolution Messaging has been working to raise the awareness of this dangerous new tactic by calling on the Federal Communications Commission to put a stop to it. Complaints are rolling in about these unsolicited text messages throughout Michigan, whose primary is this upcoming Tuesday. The text messages said “Romney’s Poor Comments” from an email address of a group that does not exist: email@example.com. The text message included a phone number that sent people to a recorded message attacking Romney. In addition to not being able to identify who these nefarious messages are actually from or be properly opted in to receiving these updates – they actually cost the voter money because text messages are not free to the end-user in the U.S.
People took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about these spam messages, including Jackie Hall from Michigan who posted to a local Michigan television station’s Facebook page:
Really hoping you’ll cover these unwanted texts from 9897870163 (firstname.lastname@example.org). I received one at 10:30 last night, and am very upset by this kind of practice. It should be illegal.
Revolution Messaging has been working to expose this under-the-radar tactic used in Congressional Races in 2010 and then again in Virginia’s Legislative Campaigns in 2011. The firm launched PocketSpammers.com, in early February, to raise awareness of this growing issue and to push the FCC to take a stance against this practice by closing any loopholes in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
“We’ve already seen runaway spending on campaigns this year,” said Scott Goodstein, founder of the firm. “We need for the FCC to assure people that unwanted & illegal text message spam will not be tolerated – period.”
Some corporations claim they have found a loophole in the (TCPA) that allows them to send unsolicited political text message spam to users’ cell phones with no opt-in or opt-out component. Under this act, the FCC has adopted regulations, which prohibit sending spam text messages.
It’s time for the FCC to end this illegal practice that hits voters right in the wallet. These text messages are sending an anonymous attack ad while costing voters money with an unwanted text message. This spam is timed perfectly for the opposition, sending an attack right before a primary election. The same tactic was seen in Colorado and the website WestCoastRepublicans.com was found to be registered by Domains by Proxy, an Arizona-based company helping people register for websites while protecting their identity.
People need to continue calling on the FCC to clarify that the ban on text messaging spam applies to ALL companies, including those who run Internet-to-phone text messaging programs.
Revolution Messaging is asking for help to push this message to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, and Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Robert McDowell, by signing the petition on PocketSpammers.com. This petition helps reinforce the one officially filed with the FCC on January 19th asking them to clearly define the text message regulations included in the TCPA.
This could be a costly 2012 election for voters if the FCC doesn’t stand up now and put an end to these unsolicited messages that are turning into a new form of voter suppression.