Wireless Communications Trade Group Opposes FCC Petition Seeking Declaration That Text Messages Are Subject to the FCC’s Open Internet Order
By Andrew C. Glass, Gregory N. Blase, Roger L. Smerage, and
Eric W. Lee
The wireless trade group CTIA–The Wireless Association recently asked the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to reject a petition that asks the agency to declare that text messages fall under the FCC’s Open Internet Order. Twilio, Inc., a cloud-based company that manages and facilitates the sending of automated text messages, filed the petition, which seeks to have the FCC confirm that text messages are telecommunication services subject to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and the protections of the Open Internet Order. The petition argues that wireless carriers use imprecise filtering systems to block millions of text messages that people have asked to receive, including critical information from their schools. It also claims that wireless carriers are violating the FCC’s rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227, by blocking text messages without giving consumers a choice or making them aware of the practice.
On August 22, 2016, CTIA–The Wireless Association asked the FCC to reject Twilio’s petition and stated that the petition amounts to a “call to invalidate the consumer protection measures that prevent these massive quantities of unlawful and unwanted mobile messaging from reaching and harming consumers today.” The trade group stated that text messaging is among the “least polluted” and most trusted methods of communication because text messaging providers and carriers actively protect consumers from spam messages. It also argued that granting Twilio’s petition would likely subject consumers to billions of unwanted text messages each year.