What is the legal situation regarding text spammers?
The law that covers text and E-mail spamming, along with
pre-recorded phone adverts, is
and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations
2003 which is enforced by
Commissioner's Office (ICO).
In particular section 22 states:
Except in the circumstances referred to in paragraph (3), a person shall neither transmit, nor instigate the transmission of, unsolicited communications for the purposes of direct marketing by means of electronic mail unless the recipient of the electronic mail has previously notified the sender that he consents for the time being to such communications being sent by, or at the instigation of, the sender.And section 2 makes it clear that this covers text messages, as well as pre-recorded phone messages, when it states:
"electronic mail" means any text, voice, sound or image message sent over a public electronic communications network which can be stored in the network or in the recipient's terminal equipment until it is collected by the recipient and includes messages sent using a short message service;
In addition to the above, section 23 states that the adverts cannot be anonymous and there must be a way to opt-out:
A person shall neither transmit, nor instigate the transmission of, a communication for the purposes of direct marketing by means of electronic mail-Section 30 allows for damages to be claimed:
A person who suffers damage by reason of any contravention of any of the requirements of these Regulations by any other person shall be entitled to bring proceedings for compensation from that other person for that damage.
There are very narrow circumstances in which text/E-mail adverts can legally be sent. This is made clear in a quote from the ICO which summarises the above laws as follows:
Section 22 of the PECR says that unsolicited direct marketing text messages cannot be sent to individual subscribers (including sole traders and non-limited liability partnerships) without prior consent. There is a very limited exception to this rule where an organisation can satisfy all of the following criteria: