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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 2, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 44
HRC files complaint over anti-Obama texts
Section One
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HRC files complaint over anti-Obama texts

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has filed a complaint with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) against a Virginia-based telecommunications company, charging it with sending a number of unsolicited anti-Obama text messages.

'Stop Obama from forcing Gay marriage on the states. Your vote is your voice,' one of the messages said. That and a series of other anti-Obama texts were sent to cell-phone customers on the night of October 30.

The company that is charged with sending the messages, ccAdvertising, has not confirmed that they are responsible, but according to reporter Chris Geidner at BuzzFeed blog, the dummy websites used to send the texts are registered to ccAdvertising executives.

'[O]ne of those executives - Gabe Joseph - is known for using questionable tactics, according to Republican operatives familiar with his past activities,' Geidner reports.

'It's unsurprising that our opponents are employing such underhanded tactics and trying to attack equality from behind shrouds of secrecy,' HRC vice president of communications Fred Sainz said in a statement.

'HRC is filing a complaint with the FCC so that these types of organizations know there are consequences for their actions. It's unacceptable to launch these types of despicable attacks from dark corners, and it's incredibly irresponsible to send out unsolicited messages to people who have no desire to receive this type of vitriol.'

TWO ALLEGATIONS
In a letter to the FCC, HRC general counsel Robert Falk argues that ccAdvertising has committed two potential violations of federal law.

The first accusation - that the company sent unsolicited text messages - may not stick, however.

Apparently ccAdvertising used an 'e-mail-to-text' technology that allowed them to send e-mails to cell phones in the form of text messages. The messages might legally be considered e-mails, and therefore not covered under FCC regulations.

An FCC spokesperson told BuzzFeed that, for now, the 'question is open in front of the Commission.'

The second potential violation is 'knowingly transmit[ting] misleading caller-ID information with the intent to defraud [or] cause harm.'

'By disguising the sender of the text messages as 'SMS@Aicett.Com,' ccAdvertising knowingly and willfully caused the caller-identification service to transmit misleading caller-identification information in an attempt to defraud and harm Gay-rights advocates,' HRC said in its complaint.

'Each violation of this provision is punishable by a penalty up to $10,000 per violation, up to a total of $1,000,000,' Falk noted in his letter to the FCC.

Although ccAdvertising identifies corporate clients like McDonald's and Starbucks on its website, it also claims the Alaska Republican Party, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Abstinence Clearinghouse, right-wing propaganda mill Eagle Publishing, and several Republican politicians.

It is not known if the company sent the anti-Obama texts on its own or on behalf of a client.

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