On Saturday, Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for President, announced that his running mate was to be Paul Ryan, a congressman from Wisconsin. What has this to do with spam, you ask? Well, early Tuesday morning our SMS spam reporting service started getting reports of a new attack. It was low volume compared with the gift card or free iPad spams, and only lasted a few hours, but the contact was something new. Here’s a typical example:
Voter #37175 Paul Ryan is secretly an atheist, Don’t vote for Godlessness! Do your research Tell your friends!
The sender used typical spammer techniques to try to avoid being blocked. The voter number varied, there were variations in the wording in different messages, and each one came from a different phone number with area codes scattered all over the country.
Personally I see nothing wrong with being an atheist, but apparently it was intended as an insult. In any event it is an absurd and easily refuted attack, as Mr Ryan is a Roman Catholic. Is this a loner trying to stir things up, a left winger trying to discredit Ryan with the religious right, or a right winger trying to change the subject of the election from Medicare and taxes, and discredit the left into the bargain?
Whoever it is should remember that the penalties for SMS spam are quite severe. Heartland Automotive Services (the largest Jiffy Lube franchisee in the US) and their SMS Marketing company just agreed to a $47 million settlement for sending out 2.3 million unwanted SMS messages last year. That’s over $20 a message, which is pretty expensive advertising, but the penalty under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act could be as high as $500 per message.
Let’s hope that this was a one off event, and not a trend. Your right to political free speech does not extend to my SMS plan, thank you very much! Please help us to monitor and block all SMS spam, commercial and political, by forwarding spam messages to 7726 (that’s SPAM spelled out on your keypad).