SMS marketing ‘illegal in the US’

Marketers in the US are being warned that they could be breaking the law by running text message campaigns – even if they target their own customers – unless they offer a free opt-out service.
According to Dr Pieter Streicher, managing director of, the US Consumer Protection Act only permits the sending of direct marketing under certain conditions, not all of which are possible to comply with when it comes to SMS communications.
In terms of the Act, claims Streicher, before sending out direct marketing messages to a database of contacts, a company would have to adhere to three conditions, one of them being that it must provide the mechanism to afford each recipient the opportunity to opt-out at no cost.
“This is not possible, except on the Vodacom network, where a reverse billing channel is provided. Normally, sending an SMS using the reply path to the SMS received would cost the consumer, depending on the network.
“If the sender allows opt-out by calling a freephone number, the call will not be free if dialled from a mobile. If the sender allows opt-out via email, four out of five mobile users will be unable to use this, as not everyone has an active email address or access to communicate through email.”

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