May 12, 2011, 10:35 AM

Pennsylvania lawmakers eye a ban on some text message marketing

However, the bill would allow retailers to send text messages in certain cases.

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Pennsylvania would ban certain forms of text message marketing under a bill that earlier this month won unanimous approval from the state’s House Consumer Affairs Committee. The bill is before the full state House for a vote, but there was no immediate information Thursday about when that vote might take place.

House Bill 247, sponsored by state Rep. Seth Grove, a Republican, would add text message marketing to the forms of telephone communication covered under Pennsylvania’s Telemarketer Registration Act. The 1996 law created the state’s do-not-call list for consumers who preferred not to be contacted by telemarketers.

Grove says the bill would help consumers control their mobile phone bills.

“As communication technology advances, marketing companies have recognized that text messaging is an effective means of contacting the public,” Grove says. “However, these companies must respect the privacy of consumers and recognize that people do not want to be charged a fee on their cell phone bill for receiving a text ad.”

If passed, the amended Telemarketer Registration Act contains provisions that would allow marketers to send text messages if a consumer opts in to receive such messages or if he has purchased an item from the retailer within the past 12 months. "Obviously text ads and coupons are excellent advertising opportunities, but for some they can be nuisances," Grove says. "So, all we are asking with this legislation is the businesses just send them to people who have opted in."

The bill offers no details about penalties for companies that violate the ban.

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