June 2, 2012
Why your cell phone is ripe for spam texts in 2012
In the late 1970s, the cutting edge of communications technologies was the autodialer, a machine capable of calling up scores of people in one shot, with little human involvement. It was innovative, and annoying. By the early ’90s, Congress had had enough. “Computerized calls,” railed South Carolina Democrat Fritz Hollings from the Senate floor, “are the scourge of modern civilization.” Reuters reports.
And so, Congress legislated. But the focus was on commercial calls. Mindful of the free flow of speech and – let’s be honest – interested in self-preservation, lawmakers exempted political calls from its Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act. But Congress decided that some phones were too sensitive to get even autodialed political calls: those in hospitals, those designated for emergency purposes – and those in our pockets.
But here we are, some two decades later, and voters across the country are getting political text messages they never asked for.
... These text messages aren’t actually, technically text messages as we normally think of them. They’re more like emails that show up as texts. And that introduces a loophole through which these texts are arriving.
There’s an another way to deliver text to a phone that most of us don’t use: sending an email to an address made up of a cell phone number and what’s called an SMS gateway, like @txt.att.net. To the person getting the message, it looks much like a text. To the person sending it, though, it feels like an email. And if it’s the latter, the rules are different.
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