Verizon Wireless announced today (WSJ registration required) it won a $200,000 judgment against a spammer. This has implications for anyone using a computer to send out text messages to consumers that have not given explicit permission to receive marketing text messages.
The initial lawsuit went after Passport Holidays for sending text messages to phone numbers within very short periods of time. When it was found that it was an individual, not Passport Holidays itself, the suit was amended to include the actual spammer, Specialized Programming and Marketing LLC, and piercing the corporate veil, its owner Charles Henderson. Even though Passport never sanctioned spamming, it was fined $10,000 and barred from future spamming.
2007 has been a great year for exploring text messaging as an extension of existing marketing plans. But if you're a business that hires someone to do text message marketing for you, and that person cuts corners (like using a web gateway, not a short code) when they send commercial text messages on your behalf, the potential penalties are starting to add up. Because each message received has an associated cost to the end user, Verizon clearly considers wireless spam to be more harmful than the email variety.