WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - A follow-up tonight to a story we first reported yesterday on those unsolicited political campaign texts that have been showing up on cell phones across our area.
Many viewers told us they were offended by the anti-Obama texts, not necessarily because of their political preference, but because of the invasion of privacy.
Today's developments: not only are people annoyed by the text messages, it turns out they're also paying for them. The law is clear about robocalls to cell phones: those are illegal. But text messages to cell phones still fall into a gray area.
We told you about the blunt text messages attacking President Obama and urging voters not to cast their ballots for him.
"They're just really anonymous and they're invasive of people's privacy and they cost people money, because they're going to people's cell phones, right? And that's a really big deal," said Shaun Dakin of stoppoliticalcalls.org.
We also reported on the source of those messages, which targeted journalists and others, many in the 202 area code.
Jason Flanary, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the State Senate in Virginia last year, owns a Centreville firm is the largest vendor of GOP robocalls in the country)
"It's SO hard to trace them[ those messages]. Really, really hard to trace them. You were lucky" said Dakin
We were able to track down Flanary through his numerous domain names.
"More often than not, it's impossible to trace them. So we are seeing increasingly this anonymous text messaging and robocall campaigns that come over voiceover ip or the Internet that can come from India or China," said Dakin.
Several of Flanary's domain names have already been suspended for spam and abuse.
There are two things you can do to prevent robocalls and texts in the future: you can sign an online petition urging the FCC to make unsolicited political texts illegal, and you can get on a political do not call list. Too late for this election, but you can prepare for the next one. For more information, you can go to our website, wusa9.com
Petition to make political texts to cell phones illegal: http://pocketspammers.com/
Political do not call list: www.StopPoliticalCalls.org
Gabriel Joseph, who is the president of ccAdvertising and a pioneer of this cutting edge technology, explained the legality and effectiveness of sending text messages in a statement:
The Federal Election Commission has codified how emails and text messages may be used. This is an important protection of free speech.
In the more than 12 years since its founding and currently, ccAdvertising has scrupulously complied with all laws and regulations affecting its activities. It appears that statements currently being made about ccAdvertising may be largely motivated by partisan political considerations.
With television advertising locked up in battleground states like Ohio, new media technologies can reach voters directly and with great accuracy and consistency.This is strategic and effective political communication.
ccAdvertising also offered a Verizon web site link that allows anyone to send an email to any mobile phone number, in an easy, accessible and legal way to communicate.