Comments to the FCC regarding the Regulatory Status of Mobile Messaging Services (WT Docket No. 08-7)

Before the

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Washington, D.C.  20554

 

In the matter of

 

Petition of Twilio, Inc., Seeking a Declaratory Ruling Clarifying the Regulatory Status of Mobile Messaging Services

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WT Docket No. 08-7

 

Reply Comments of

Thomas A. Schatz

President

Citizens Against Government Waste

 

December 17, 2015

 

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to educating the American public about waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in government.  On behalf of the more than 1.2 million members and supporters of CAGW, I offer the following comments in opposition to the petition for a declaratory ruling to define text messaging and short codes as Title II services subject to Section 202 nondiscriminatory rules of the Communications Act (WT Docket No. 08-7).

 

CAGW is concerned that reclassifying text messaging and short codes as Title II telecommunications services would severely hamper the ability of wireless carriers to restrict unwanted spam messages to consumers.  Under the current regulatory structure, wireless carriers have been able to provide protection to consumers from unwanted spam text messages through various filtering technologies.  In addition, the wireless industry has implemented the Common Short Code program that requires an opt-in for commercial campaigns.

 

According to the FCC’s own website, the “FCC rules ban text messages sent to a mobile phone using an autodialer unless the consumer previously gave consent to receive the message, or the message is sent for emergency purposes.”  This ban exists, even if the consumer has not put their mobile phone number on the national Do-Not-Call registry, and without the current regulatory framework that provides the ability for carriers to combat unwanted text traffic, the consumer experience could become a free-for-all of wireless text messages.

 

The newer cloud-based messaging systems provide new challenges to protecting consumers from spam messages, however, applying Title II restrictions to these systems would create barriers to the carriers in managing spam traffic.  While companies like those that have already commented on the petition such as Twilio, Zillow, and others provide legitimate services through opt-in text messages, the vast majority of spam traffic involves scams and other fraudulent activity.  We recommend that companies using the newer cloud-based messaging systems work cooperatively with the carriers to improve their innovative systems and technologies, rather than demand changing the rules governing these services to those dating back to 1934.

 

In addition, while text messaging is currently subject to sales tax, reclassification of text messages and short codes from Title I information services to Title II telecommunications services could subject these services to additional taxes and fees that would increase the cost to consumers.

 

For these reasons, I urge you continue your protection of consumers from unwanted and potentially fraudulent spam, and deny the petition to reclassify these services as Title II telecommunications services.

 

Sincerely,

 

Thomas A. Schatz

President

Citizens Against Government Waste

 

 

 

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