8127 – The Sound of Silence


How do you feel about text spam on your cell phone?  Well, the Ninth Circuit has just short-circuited what could’ve turned out to be a real pain in the ear.  The case involved unsolicited ads sent to cell phones via the SMS system, which stands for Short Messaging Service.  The company argued that the Consumer Protection Act prohibits calls and a text is not a call.  Also, the law only outlaws calls made by automatic dialers and, lastly, the cell phone owners, in return for a special free ringtone, had agreed to receive promotional messages.  Well, the Court ruled the text message is a call, that Webster’s defines a call as to communicate with a person by telephone.  Also, although these numbers were not made by automatic dialers, the equipment had the capacity to do so and, lastly, the advertiser had to own the company making the free offer, which it didn’t.  So who you’re gonna text has run into text buster, and text spam is a hard sell for them and a soft cell phone for you.


Satterfield v. Simon and Shuster, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 07-16356, June 19, 2009, Smith, J., U.S. Law Week, Vol. 77, No. 50, Pg. 1831, 6-30-09