Mobile social network Path has been hit with a potential class-action lawsuit for allegedly sending unsolicited text ads to people's cell phones.
Illinois resident Kevin Sterk alleges that last month he received an SMS message from Path stating someone else wanted to show him photos on the service, and contained a link to a site where he could register to join.
Sterk, who says he never authorized Path to contact him via SMS, alleges that the company sent similar text messages to “thousands” of other cell phone users.
“By making these unauthorized text message calls, [Path] has caused consumers actual harm, not only because consumers were subjected to the aggravation that necessarily accompanies the receipt of unauthorized text message calls, but also because consumers frequently have to pay their cell phone service providers for the receipt of such unauthorized text message calls,” Sterk alleges in his lawsuit, filed last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
Sterk contends that Path is violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from using automated dialing services to send SMS messages without the recipients' consent. The law provides for damages of $500 per incident. Sterk, who is seeking class-action status, is asking for monetary damages and an order prohibiting Path from sending unsolicited text messages.
Path declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Jay Edelson, Sterk's attorney, has filed similar lawsuits against other Web companies. In one of those matters, Google agreed to pay $6 million to settle allegations that its social apps company Slide violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. That case was brought by Nicole Pimental and Jessica Franklin, who alleged that Disco (Slide's group messaging app) used an automated dialing service to send SMS messages to people without first obtaining their consent.
U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, Calif. granted the deal preliminary approval last November. She will hold a hearing in May about whether to grant the settlement final approval.