Verizon cuts off wireless spam operation

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Verizon Wireless has won a permanent injunction to stop Passport Holidays of Ormond Beach, Fla., from sending unsolicited spam text messages to its mobile phone customers.

The operator initially filed the suit in October 2005 in U.S. District Court in Trenton, N.J., when Passport Holidays arranged and coordinated sending more than 98,000 text messages to Verizon Wireless customers, urging them to take action to claim a Bahamas cruise prize.

Under the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Passport Holidays has been permanently barred from sending text messages to Verizon customers. The law prohibits the use of "auto-dialing" equipment to send large bursts of text messages to sequential phone numbers within very short periods of time. Passport Holidays will also pay $10,000 in damages.

Verizon Wireless said it is donating the entire amount to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Tallahassee, Fla., on behalf of its HopeLine program, which works to prevent domestic abuse and raise awareness of the issue nationwide.

Steven Zipperstein, general counsel and vice president of legal and external affairs at Verizon Wireless, said: "Our customers have an expectation of privacy in regard to their wireless phones - they expect that they will not face intrusions from telemarketers and be forced to deal with unwanted and unsolicited calls and messages.

He added that the settlement should put other potential spammers on alert that the firm takes any threat to customers' right to privacy seriously: "While we pursue those who threaten the zone of privacy our customers expect, it is rewarding to dedicate the financial settlements to the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence for their good work in preventing domestic violence."

The injunction was entered as the result of court-approved settlements between Verizon Wireless and Passport Holidays. An agreement was reached with Passport Holidays on Jan. 27.

Verizon Wireless has also filed an amended complaint with the U.S. District Court in Trenton suing Specialized Programming and Marketing LLC of Holly Hill, Fla., along with several individuals believed to be associated with that company. Specialized Programming was identified by Passport Holidays as the company that sent out the spam messages that form the basis for the suit.

Copyright © SC Magazine, US edition

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