Supreme Court: A Service Text Message Is Not a Violation of the Spam Law
The Supreme Court recently ruled on the issue of whether sending a text message in the course of customer service constitutes a violation of the Spam Law. The Court granted the Bezeq company’s appeal regarding the certification of a class action suit against it and held that the text messages Bezeq sent its clients do not meet the definition of “advertising material” and thus do not violate the Spam Law.
The class action suit revolved around text messages Bezeq sent its customers after the latter called the company’s phone customer service 199 line. These messages informed customers of an alternative internet service avenue, “My Bezeq”, and attached a direct link to the website.
The Supreme Court, which set aside the decision of the Tel Aviv District Court and dismissed the application for certification of the suit as a class action, emphasized that the purpose of the text message was clearly service and not advertising. Therefore, it does not meet the definition of “advertising material.” Other factors considered by the Supreme Court were that the website itself does not include marketing material, and that the service is provided without holding for a customer service representative, carries no charge, is provided every day of the week and around the clock (24/7), and appears to improve customer service and make it more accessible.
The Supreme Court reiterated that the “Spam Law”, including its definitions, was designed to address the phenomenon of mass distribution of advertisement messages to recipients who have no interest in receiving them, thereby invading privacy and causing nuisance, as opposed to messages with clear service content.
The Supreme Court examined this case based on precedent established in the Psagot case. In that case, the company sent its insured clients messages that included links to free courses designed, according to the company, to educate toward good financial behavior. The Court found that one of the goals in sending the messages was to expose recipients to the services and products offered by Psagot, in order to recruit new customers or to supply current customers with additional services. Therefore, the Court found, the messages did constitute “advertising material.” In contrast, in the Bezeq case, the Supreme Court found that the primary purpose of the messages sent was service.
In light of the growing trend to file spam lawsuits, this is an important distinction. Not every text message is “spam,” and if the purpose of the message is service rather than advertising, sending it does not constitute a violation of the law.