Anti-Spam Laws a Tough 'Cell'

Friday, 27 September 2002, 12:26 PM EST

When California Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill last week that prohibits companies from sending unsolicited text messages to cell phones, Rodney Joffe called the move a "great start."

If anything, Joffe, an entrepreneur who helped found the network services provider Genuity, wants his home state, Arizona, to enact a similar law. It sure would make his life easier.

About 18 months ago, Joffe was interrupted in the middle of a Riverdance performance with a text message on his cell phone asking if he was interested in a mortgage. The message was sent to at least 90,000 unsuspecting cell-phone users as part of an advertising campaign by Acacia National Mortgage Company.

Even though Joffe complained to Acacia and his service provider, AT&T Wireless, he was hit with the ad again a few months later. Now Joffe is embroiled in a lawsuit with Acacia, which he says violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 that prohibits junk faxes and prerecorded telemarketing calls to cell phones. He is also trying to convert his individual suit into a class-action lawsuit in Arizona's Supreme Court.

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