"Look, technology is moving faster than ever, but if you touch a phone and you don't own the phone, you don't have permission to get on the phone. It should be a violation," Goodstein says. He believes current law already bans the texts, and all he wants from the FCC is a clear ruling on what the law says. "We just want [them] to clarify that's the current rule, and somebody should prosecute this guy."
Asked about the law before, ccAdvertising has directed reporters to a press release from February 15, 2012 claiming the FCC had vindicated their practices as legal. In fact, it's far from clear: the FCC only said that a rule had not changed with regards to politics, not that specific practices were legal. In any case, February 15 is also the day that Flanary registered the series of domains that sent messages Tuesday. A call to the FCC was not immediately returned.
Goodstein says the text-message deluge was likely very cheap. It's easy to obtain blocks of phone numbers, and it costs next to nothing to send out emails. In fact, ccAdvertising doesn't even need to know who your service provider is. Returning to the example above, they can send messages to a passel of SMS gateways: firstname.lastname@example.org (ATT), email@example.com (Verizon), and so on. All but one of the emails will fail, but the one that works will land in your text inbox. And since the only real cost is borne by the recipient of the message, the whole operation costs ccAdvertising little.
So the remaining question is, who's behind the text messages? The Romney campaign says it has nothing to do with them. A search of FEC records for independent expenditures doesn't turn up any recent buys with ccAdvertising that would fit the description of the texts. All that's clear is that whoever it is doesn't want to see Barack Obama reelected.
Update, 11/2/12: On Friday, ccAdvertising sent a comment through Shirley & Banister, a public-relations company. The firm's Gabriel Joseph said, in part: "In the more than 12 years since its founding and currently, ccAdvertising has scrupulously complied with all laws and regulations affecting its activities. It appears that statements currently being made about ccAdvertising may be largely motivated by partisan political considerations." But it's not that clear cut. The FCC is currently soliciting public comment on rules for Internet-to-phone text communications based on Goodstein's complaint. In addition, an FCC release on September 12 stated: "Prerecorded voice messages and autodialed calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded or artificial voice messages, and text messages) to cell phones and other mobile services such as paging systems are prohibited, subject to only two exceptions: 1) calls made for emergency purposes, and 2) calls made with the prior express consent of the called party." That would appear to include ccAdvertising's text messages.