Yahoo is facing the potential of parting with up to $750 million in damages caused by sending users of Sprint messages they did not consent to receive.
This is because of a ruling by a federal judge in Chicago where a class-action suit involving as many as 500,000 people was moved forward to this Monday with allegations that the tech giant violated telecom rules.
If this lawsuit is won by the said consumers, Yahoo will be charged with $1,500 per message it sent to each of these consumers back in 2013. The messages were reportedly sent to consumers of Sprint, who were not associated with Yahoo, something that ideally raises questions.
Yahoo Inc. has been facing lots of ups and downs in the recent past; coming in with a number of services that it hopes will help revive its dwindling status in the tech industry. Last December, the company launched Yahoo Messenger, a chat app that is targeting the likes of WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger as well as Skype, but it has yet to receive significant traction. The new chat app offers users with the ability to convert online messages into the most favored text messages.
According to the plaintiffs, when someone receives a text message from Yahoo, the platform also goes ahead and sends users another message to follow-up the initial message, with claims of “welcoming” users to the platform the main reasoning behind these follow-up messages.
The message, which looks something like “A Yahoo user (contact) has sent you a message. Reply to the message (SMS) to respond. Reply INFO for help or go to y.ahoo.it/imsms”; is something that consumers claim they never agreed to receive from Yahoo.
It’s illegal to make auto-dialed calls or send automated SMS to consumers
According to the U.S. federal rules, it is illegal for any company to send users automated messages or even make auto-dialed calls without their prior agreement. As a result, the outcome of this case is heavily dependent on the event that Yahoo can prove that the said messages were sent to users because they had agreed to receive them.
In its defense, Yahoo claims that the plaintiffs may have agreed to the terms and conditions of service at some point when they downloaded one of their apps; terms that possibly include the sending of automated messages to customers. However, one of the plaintiffs, Rachel Johnson, said that she had only owned a basic flip phone and not a smartphone, something that further throws Yahoo claims into the shadows.
The class-action is expected to continue as from this week.