BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - The European parliamentary Citizens’ Rights and Freedoms, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (actual name) has made a ruling that commercial text messages sent to cell phones (also known as SMS) must be approved by the person receiving them. If the European Parliament agrees, it will be passed into law in May throughout the continent. This is a victory for anti-spam and privacy advocates, and a black eye for those who make money off the newly emerging marketing tactic. If this becomes law in Europe, it will likely spur legislation in other parts of the world.
People in the street outside the Parliament in Brussels were questioned on what this means to them. “I can’t believe we’re getting spam on our phones now too,” said Yves Lamonte, a passerby. First they gave us cancer, then pirated music for their rings, then pornography on the ‘web’ phones, and now spam! The next phones will have a button labeled ‘Sell soul’.” Wilhelm Forester, the next passerby, had this to say: “I don’t hof a ‘cell’ phone and I don’t vant one! I’ve had enough of your peddling!” He proceeded to storm off. Our most vocal speaker said, “Ou est le souterrain le plus proche? SMS? Quel est SMS? Je ne sais pas. Pourquoi ecrivez-vous ce que je dis? �tes-vous une sorte d’espion? Arr�tez-la. Arr�tez-la maintenant vous imb�cile! Je suis sortir d’ici!” We’re not exactly sure what it meant, but it probably translated to “Spam is bad.”
While the first internet spam messages were for legal services, the first cell phone spam messages are mostly from cell phone companies. David Haxman, an IAC reseacher, pointed out that the cell phone companies’ biggest goal right now is to sell pricier handsets with features like SMS. “This doesn’t work well as a message through SMS. It’d be like sending postal mail about the glories of getting a mailbox.” While this barely made sense to us, researchers are more qualified than us to make such judgements.
The writer of this article has never gotten SMS spam trying to sell him a SMS phone, but he’s never gotten any SMS spam before. In fact, he’s never gotten an SMS message. And doesn’t even have an SMS phone. Or a cell phone at all, really. What’s a phone?