Print 76 comment(s) - last by Insurgence.. on Dec 14 at 8:07 PM

Notorious spammer claims net neutrality applies to spam

Jason Flanary (R), chief operating officer at ccAdvertising -- a company specializing in political text message spam – turned heads during the last presidential election by sending unsolicited messages to smartphones with statements like, "Obama believes killing children is a right until the umbilical cord is cut."

While Mr. Flanary was disappointed to lose his own election bid for the Virginia state senate [source] amid the controversy that ensued, he's now pushing ahead on an even more ambitious effort.  He's asked the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to either whitelist political spam (or "political messages" as he views it) or to declare spam in general protected free speech.

Either way, he argues, it should be illegal for private businesses to block or discriminate against using filters traffic they consider "spam".

In the wake of the ccAdvertising text campaign many carriers began to block his company's messages, recognizing that their customers did not want the unsolicited and often times unwelcome texts.  But in doing so Mr. Flanary claims they broke the law.

Jason Flanary
Jason Flanary is among the Republicans breaking with part ranks to voice support for net neutrality, arguing it should be expanded to protect political spam.
[Image Source: FairFax Patch]

His stand is unusual as in the past most federal Republicans contended that net neutrality was an abusive expansion of federal power and intrusion on free market.  Now it appears that at least some Republicans may be changing their mind, looking to leverage the FCC policy to their advantage.

If you want to respond to Mr. Flanary's claim that political text message spam is protected free speech, the FCC welcomes public comments here.  Be aware, you must give your real name and address.

Sources: FCC [filing], [comments], DailyKos

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But technically, isn't he right?
By DukeN on 12/12/2012 2:43:15 PM , Rating: 0
I hate douchebags like this as much as the next guy, but doesn't this guy have a point?

His outbound traffic is being filtered based on its content, which contravenes basic Net Neutrality priciples IMO.

RE: But technically, isn't he right?
By Shadowself on 12/12/2012 2:55:04 PM , Rating: 2
ALL SMS spam should be illegal. The same should go for spam multi media variants.

Many people still do not have unlimited SMS service. They pay for the messages by the message. Why should these people be forced to pay their carrier to receive spam?

In this regard this is no different than spam faxes which are illegal and carry fines for them. If you are going to cost the receiver money for each and every spam message you send to them, then that should not be allowed.

RE: But technically, isn't he right?
By Nutzo on 12/13/2012 12:05:50 AM , Rating: 3

Until a few month ago I didn't have a text plan, and would get charged for this unwanted spam. My only recourse was to block ALL messages, which ment I couldn't get the few messages I actually wanted.

This is no different that Faxes, where it costs the receiver money to receive a fax (paper/ink).

Unsolicited SMS messages should be illegal, with $$ penalties applied to people who send them.

By Insurgence on 12/14/2012 8:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
It's not only effecting cost by SMS texts, but also by impact on network bandwidth/usage and time. As a result many companies have to spend money on additional equipment to compensate for that bandwidth loss, and to filter out the spam to reduce the impact.

All while the only thing the spammer pays is his internet bill.

By alvester on 12/13/2012 12:11:20 AM , Rating: 2
AGREED and exactly! Excellent points Shadowself. It's not just extremely annoying but a matter of costs too. I travel overseas a fair amount for business and getting spam texts can get costly.

By SigmundEXactos on 12/12/2012 3:00:59 PM , Rating: 2
He has a right to speak -- which he's continuing to exercise. However, he does not have a right to force people to listen, which is what being spammed via text message is. People are allowed to filter, and they are allowed to filter at the upstream level. It's like having a "no solicitors" sign up at the edge of of your community. In this case, he's using a private network (phone), which doesn't have a free speech guarantee.

RE: But technically, isn't he right?
By Solandri on 12/12/2012 3:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Net neutrality just means the carriers don't get in the way of network transmissions. If the end recipient, the user doesn't wish to receive what you're sending (or if a website doesn't wish to allow a user access), then it's not a violation of net neutrality.

So if the carriers are automatically blocking everything from him to all users, then yes it's a violation of net neutrality. If the users however say they authorize the carrier to automatically block his (and other) spam to their phone, then it's not a violation.

RE: But technically, isn't he right?
By JediJeb on 12/12/2012 3:15:28 PM , Rating: 2
I have AT&T and do not have a messaging plan but I have not seen any option to have AT&T block only certain senders from sending me a message, so wouldn't they need to do a blanket block of this person's messages to keep me from having to pay to receive a message from him?

I would rather see it that those who want to receive these spam messages have to sign up for them, than to have those who don't want them to have to sign up for them to be blocked. Would be fewer wanting to receive than wanting to block I would think.

By Solandri on 12/12/2012 3:30:41 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I would be fine with it either way, and would prefer blocking enabled unless I turn it off. Especially since many people still get charged per text, and if they don't know they have the option to block, the carriers effectively get to collect free money from the ignorant.

But while it would be the easiest and most logical way of dealing with the problem, lots of activists and lawyers would get upset if you do it that way. And they're nastier to deal with than spam. So whichever way works.

As for AT&T in particular and blocking a single person's messages, here's the second link Google spit out:

(relevant post and link is near the bottom)

RE: But technically, isn't he right?
By JediJeb on 12/13/2012 3:54:11 PM , Rating: 2
TSo if the carriers are automatically blocking everything from him to all users, then yes it's a violation of net neutrality.

I just was looking at something that may go in favor of the carriers blocking this. It is a statement within the CAN-SPAM Act which also requires the FTC to promulgate rules to shield consumers from unwanted mobile phone spam. Though I am not sure the FTC has done as it was supposed to do, since it has done little so far to enforce compliance of the email side of the act.

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