Public Knowledge Petitions FCC to Reconsider Allowing Carriers to Restrict Text Messaging

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Today, Public Knowledge, joined by 15 consumer, rural, and public interest groups, filed a Petition for Reconsideration opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s recent Declaratory Ruling classifying text messaging as a Title I information service under the Communications Act.

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.

The following can be attributed to John Bergmayer, Senior Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“The FCC's decision on the classification of SMS is bad policy, and legally untenable. Consumers, nonprofits, and businesses need access to open, nondiscriminatory communications services like SMS, just as they need access to broadband and telephony.

“But that's not the only reason we're asking the Commission to reconsider its decision. In addition, the final Order introduces new legal errors not present in the circulated draft, and fails to consider relevant policy issues concerning consumer privacy and access to SMS for institutions such as schools. In addition, the SMS Order relies on much of the same reasoning that is currently being challenged in court in the net neutrality litigation, and this creates needless legal uncertainty.  

“Thus, the most prudent course of action for the FCC would be to accept our groups’ petition, put it out for comment, and complete its record on the points we have raised. We believe the weight of the evidence should be enough to convince the FCC to rescind its action.”

You may view the petition here. You may also 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 and ex parte on the topic.

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