This past week, after a long hiatus from spam, because carriers are getting ever better at filtering out unwanted messages, my phone has been blowing up. The messages are from every manner of politician. They are raising money. Or trying to.
The numbers seem almost random, and changing, so there is no chance of blocking them. What’s more…
…whoops, just got another one…
You can type STOP but that only works for one number.
Another pops up immediately. I’ve been getting about 4 per day,
making the SMS functionality of my phone almost useless, so I’ve turned
off my notifications, meaning that I don’t get texts that I might need
unless I specifically check.
I assumed that this was illegal, so therefore it’s rather amazing
that politicians could get away with this. Thank you, Twitter, for
correcting me on this point.
As it turns out, the nation has a very strict texting law on spam. Private companies have paid tens of millions in settlements. You can be liable for $500 per text — a
figure that can seriously add up if you are sending bulk spams.
After all, the Wall Street Journal points out, the text to cellphones can be “a highly attractive medium for bad actors.”
Here’s the rub: by law, politicians campaigning for office are
exempted, which is to say that the law protects their right to bombard
you with texts. Incredible, right? Not believable? Here’s the FTC:
Exceptions to the law:
* Transactional or relationship types of messages. If a company has a relationship with you, it can send you things like statements or warranty information.
* Non-commercial messages. This includes political surveys or fundraising messages.
Stunning, even to someone like me who has the lowest possible
expectations for the decency of lawmakers. I’m well aware of the
hypocrisy of politics. As Bastiat never tired of pointing out, states
legalize for themselves what they make illegal for the rest of us. You
know, things like stealing, counterfeiting, kidnapping, fraud, and the
like. For that matter, murder too. There is one law for them and one law
for us, and yet they are also charged with enforcing the laws against
us that they ignore for themselves.
Yes, the state is a weird institution.
Somehow, that my phone lights up with their fundraising pitches
underscores the point in an especially salient way. Why would government
assume that I need protection against texts from WalMart but I would be
delighted by a text from Mitch McConnell?
Of course it is not really about protecting me from anything. It is about creating the appearance that I’m being protected from evil actors — but I need no protection from political texts because I should be absolutely thrilled to know that various politicos are seeking my money to fund their rackets, I mean campaigns.
Here’s the great irony: the law purporting to ban spam texts actually
ends up permissioning the political class to break the terms of the law
for themselves. Otherwise, technological innovation alone would likely
have fixed this problem already.
Lacking any other solution, I will continue to type STOP to end whatever aspect of state intrusion I can. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do the same in a range of other areas in which politics intrudes into our lives?
THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY POSTED HERE.