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Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted on a party-line vote to approve a Declaratory Ruling on “Text Messaging Classification,” classifying text messaging as a Title I information service under the Communications Act. This action enables wireless carriers to discriminate against short-messaging services (SMS) and short codes, the standard five or six-digit vanity numbers used by organizations such as Catholic Relief Services for disaster relief campaigns, or by political campaigns and marketing firms.
Public Knowledge, which has long spearheaded efforts to classify text messaging as a Title II “common carrier” telecommunications service, believes this action undermines the public’s right to use text messaging without undue interference from wireless companies. In addition to these concerns, the Declaratory Ruling does not address how the potential loss of billions of dollars in revenue will impact the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), the primary federal subsidy for affordable telephone and broadband access.
The following can be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“No one should mistake today’s action as an effort to help consumers limit spam and robotexts. There is a reason why carriers are applauding while more than 20 consumer protection advocates -- along with 10 Senators -- have cried foul. This decision does nothing to curb spam, and is not needed to curb spam. It is simply the latest example of Chairman Pai’s radical agenda that puts companies ahead of consumers. We urge members of Congress to overturn this decision and ensure that wireless carriers cannot block or censor personal text messages.”
You may view our 2007 petition requesting the FCC protect SMS text messaging as a Title II service for more information, as well as our latest blog post, “Chairman Pai Isn’t Stopping Robocalls -- He’s Empowering Carriers to Block Your Text Messages,” and recent FCC letter on the topic.