Hundreds in Hampton Roads get political text messages

Posted at 8:28 PM, Sep 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-25 20:28:11-04

Hundreds of people in Hampton Roads got a political text message Monday morning against Democratic Senate candidate Tim Kaine.

Nicole Wyndham got one. "I was confused. I didn't know what it was," Wyndham explained.

Kaine's campaign released a statement against the texts.

In part, it says: "The Kaine for Virginia campaign did not send these messages and does not know who did.  Voters have every right to be concerned about this breach of privacy.  It's one thing to subject people to millions of dollars of false TV ads.  It's another thing to invade their privacy with misleading text messages to their personal cell numbers.  This is beneath the standard Virginia expects from its public officials."

CNU Government Chair Dr. Quentin Kidd says it's against the law to send unsolicited political text messages.

"It is illegal to send text messages – spam text messages essentially," Dr. Kidd explained.

However, he says its likely a political consulting firm is behind the messages sent to Hampton Roads voters and they may be skirting the law by claiming the messages are e-mails.

"Some political consulting firms have found a way around it," Dr. Kidd explained. "We all have an email address attached to our cell phones and the political firms that do it claim that it’s an email. So they send bulk emails but they effectively come to your cell phone."

Dr. Kidd says the text message is a valuable tool for those sending the texts because it is so intrusive.

"When you get a text message. It’s all intrusive. It pushes everything else out of the way on your phone," Dr. Kidd explained. "A text message like this is 10x more likely than an email sent to your email inbox.You may not like it, but the fact that you looked at it is what they are after."

If you got the text message and are displeased, Dr. Kidd says the most effective way you can take action is to file a complaint with the FCC.

"File a complaint with the FCC because ultimately that’s who will have to decide whether this is illegal or not," Dr. Kidd explained. "If enough people complain about it they’ll make a ruling on it and either declare that sending an email to a phone number is a text message or not."

You can file a complaint with the FCC using this form. You can also call them at 1-888-CALL-FCC.