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Do-Not-Text law lets Tennesseans block unwanted messages

The House chamber on Thursday unanimously passed legislation to allow Tennessee consumers to block unwanted text messages. The Senate companion version passed unanimously on March 6.

House Bill 805, sponsored by House Majority Leader William Lamberth, R-Portland, merges text message solicitations to the state’s Do Not Call Registry. It extends the same prohibitions, requirements, and penalties that apply to telephone solicitations to unwanted text messages. 

The Tennessee Public Utility Commission (TPUC) would continue to oversee the registry, which includes landlines and cell phone numbers of Tennessee telephone subscribers who have elected not to receive solicitations. Businesses may not be included on the list.

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“I think we’re all sick of getting unsolicited texts messages from individuals we don’t know and I know my constituents are as well,” Lamberth told members on the House floor. “If you want to be left alone you can be added to this and just be left alone.” 

House Bill 805 prescribes a maximum penalty of $2,000 dollars for each violation of a text solicitation to a person on the registry.

There are some exemptions to the law which include invitations to be called by the person being called and solicitations on behalf of a not-for-profit organization.  

The Tennessee Do-Not-Call law only authorizes the regulation of telemarketing for commercial purposes; political telemarketing is not covered by this law. Because free speech is guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed for the regulation of commercial speech but has provided political speech with much greater protection from government regulation.  House Bill 805 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature. For information and to be added to the Do-Not-Call Registry, visit here

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