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Senators introduce bill to curb mobile spam

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Bill Nelson are attempting to increase government oversight of commercial text messages with a bill to regulate SMS spam.

Two Senators are attempting to curb unsolicited text messages with a bill to strengthen government oversight of commercial texts.

Senators Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) on Thursday introduced the m-SPAM Act, which would strictly prohibit commercial text messages to wireless numbers listed on the Do Not Call registry. The bill would also give the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission more authority to regulate unwanted text messages.

"Mobile spam invades both a consumer's cell phone and monthly bill," Snowe said in a statement. "There is also increasing concern that mobile spam will become more than just an annoyance--the viruses and malicious spyware that are often attached to traditional spam will most likely be more prevalent on wireless devices through m-spam. This significant and looming threat must be addressed in order to protect consumers and vital wireless services."

In 2007, U.S. consumers received approximately 1.1 billion text messages that they identified as "spam," according to Ferris Research. That number increased from previous years, but still represents a small portion of the text messages consumers receive. In the month of June 2007 alone, 28.8 billion text messages were reported, according to the CTIA.

As a result of the 2003 CAN-SPAM Act, the FCC adopted rules to prohibit sending unsolicited commercial e-mail messages to wireless devices without permission, but the ban does not cover SMS messages. Mobile spam has been reported as a means for phishing attacks, in which scammers try to prompt cell phone users into revealing their personal data over the phone.