Yahoo Wins Round In Text-Spam Battle

Yahoo won't have to face a class-action lawsuit for allegedly violating a text-spam law, a federal judge has ruled.

The ruling, issued late last month by U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in the Southern District of California, stems from a lawsuit challenging a Yahoo feature that enables Yahoo's registered users to send instant messages people to their friends.

When users send a message to a recipient for the first time, Yahoo also sends that person a "welcome" message, according to the court documents. Two people who say they received those "welcome" messages -- Rafael David Sherman and Susan Pathman -- are accusing Yahoo of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits companies from sending automated text messages without the recipients' consent.

Sherman and Pathman sought class-action status.



Yahoo opposed that request, arguing that class-action treatment wasn't appropriate on the grounds that some recipients -- including those who signed up for Yahoo after July of 2007 -- consented to receive the texts.

The company says that its terms of service have reserved the right to send text messages to users since August of 2007. Yahoo also argues that users that provide their cell phone numbers to the company consent to receiving text messages, as do people who "regularly" send text messages to their friends through Yahoo's platform.

Curiel wrote that he agreed with Yahoo that class-action status wasn't appropriate. "The Court finds that individualized issues of consent predominate over common questions," he wrote.

The decision allows Sherman and Pathman to proceed as individuals, but doing so often is prohibitively expensive.

Yahoo is still battling over alleged text-spam with several other consumers, including a Philadelphia resident who says he received thousands of misdirected text messages after purchasing a used phone.

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