Published: Sun, December 16, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Wireless Carriers Can Block Spam, Unwanted Text Messages, FCC Says

Wireless Carriers Can Block Spam, Unwanted Text Messages, FCC Says

Nine Democratic U.S. senators and Vermont's Bernie Sanders, an independent, in a December 7 letter asked the FCC not to take the step, saying it would let phone companies "block any text message they wish" and charge more to businesses trying to reach clients and consumers. The petition was filed on complaints that wireless carriers were blocking text messages Twilio's clients had been exchanging with their customers. Our subscribers rely on FierceWireless as their must-read source for the latest news, analysis and data on this increasingly competitive marketplace. But critics claim the commission may empower carriers to block legitimate content. And as it stands now, the trade group says the proposed measure would set up an unfair dynamic between text messages offered by wireless carriers and Internet-based messaging services whose products are used like texts - WhatsApp and iMessage, for example.

But consumer groups and Senate Democrats say the FCC could have allowed classified texting as a common-carrier service and still allowed phone providers to block unwanted robotexts.

The FCC voted 3-to-1 to order text messages as a data benefit as opposed to a media telecommunications service, which it said would have restricted the capacity of remote bearers to battle robotexts and spam messages. In addition, it said the Declaratory Ruling doesn't address how the potential loss of billions of dollars in revenue will impact the federal Universal Service Fund (USF). "Not only does this regulatory rollback give phone companies unchecked ability to block text messages, but it could also potentially eliminate important consumer protections guaranteed under Title II, including Truth-In-Billing, prohibitions on price gouging, and strong privacy protections". She tweeted after the vote to explain a bit why she chose to dissent, "That means your carrier now has the legal right to block your text messages and censor the very content of your messages themselves", she said.

If the proposal goes through, some residents said they already thinking of ways to avoid any new taxes on their texting habits.

"Harold Feld, senior vice president at Public Knowledge, stated Tuesday that the FCC's decision does nothing to curb spam, and is not needed to curb spam". Some consumer groups pointed to a 2016 FCC ruling that said carriers can block robocalls, even though phone calls are usually subject to no-blocking rules.

Like this: