Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

What's With the FCC's Text Message Reclassification?

While robocalls may have cooled down a bit, robotexts are being sent in record numbers. Fortunately, the FCC recognizes that these are mostly an annoyance to the recipients, especially when they don't recall ever consenting to receive the texts.

However, the most recent FCC proposal might end up blocking some of those robotexts consumers want, that are perfectly legal. While the official announcement seems to downplay one critical fact, the big proposal Chairman Pai is making would reclassify text messages from telecommunications services (like phone calls) to information services (like internet service). Basically allowing the service providers more latitude and less regulation when it comes to blocking robotexts.

Deregulating Text Messaging

It seems to be a curious move to be removing text messaging from telecommunications services given that the FCC's own announcement explains that 58 percent of teens use texting as their primary method of communicating.

Reclassifying texts as information services might end up impacting small businesses that have begun using automated texting services to notify clients and customers of appointments, important events, or other messages that the recipient has consented to receive. Basically, like net neutrality, robotexts could become a pay-to-play deal, making the cost-effective tech cost-prohibitive or worthless.

Who Dis Directory?

In addition to the reclassification move, Pai is proposing that a national changed number directory be created and robo-dialers need to confirm that the numbers they are calling haven't been changed.

Curiously, the problem of not getting robocalls after changing your phone number doesn't seem like a problem at all. In fact, it seems to negate one of the benefits of getting a new phone number if telemarketers will just be able to go into a database and see that it has changed.

Despite the FCC Chairman's stated purpose of protecting the consumer public, these moves certainly seem to favor big business and don't do any favors for the consumer public.

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