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Senators Oppose FCC’s Declaratory Ruling on Text Messaging in Letter to Chairman Ajit Pai


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U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is leading the opposition to the ruling set for consideration at the FCC’s Dec. 12 meeting. The FCC will also consider a second report and order on creating a reassigned numbers database during the meeting.

12/10/2018 17:00

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and several other Democratic senators are calling on the Federal Communications Commission to keep text messaging as an open telephone service before it considers a ruling to help prevent consumers from receiving “spam robotexts” at its commission meeting Dec. 12.

The commission will consider a Declaratory Ruling that would classify two forms of wireless messaging, Short Message Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), as information services under the Communications Act, according to the FCC’s meeting notice.

Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce Science and Transportation Committee and the original author of the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and nine other Democratic senators oppose the order classifying text messaging as an information services, according to a news release from Markey’s office.

“We urge you to right this wrong and classify text messaging as a telecommunications service, affording this vital means of communications protections that promote innovation and support freedom of speech,” according to the letter from Markey and U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tina Smith, D-Minn., Ben Cardin, D-Md., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

“In the 21st century, text messaging is as essential as telephone service, facilitating trillions of messages between senders and receivers each year—from businesses and customers, from organizations and supporters, from parents and teachers, and from doctors and patients,” the letter states. “Should text messaging be classified as an information service, telephone carriers would be free to block any text message they wish. We urge you to right this wrong and classify text messaging as a telecommunications service, affording this vital means of communications protections that promote innovation and support freedom of speech.”

Read the complete letter from the senators to Chairman Pai here.

Meanwhile, the FCC will also consider a second report and order to create a comprehensive reassigned numbers database as part of its efforts to reduce robocalls during Wednesday’s meeting.

ACA International filed comments with the FCC in support of its efforts to combat illegal and fraudulent calls, while reiterating the need for clear interpretations of the TCPA. ACA supported efforts to develop a concise reassigned numbers database in June, urging that it be reasonably priced, accurate and easy to use and include a safe harbor. The FCC indicated that it will address the issue of a safe harbor in its order concerning the ACA lawsuit, which is expected in early 2019, ACA previously reported.

Read more on relevant parts of the reassigned numbers database order for the ARM industry in a report by ACA’s Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey.

ACA International will be following the FCC’s meeting Wednesday and provide updates in ACA Daily.

 Related Content from ACA International:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Proposes Reassigned Numbers Database

FCC Releases Final Draft Report and Order on Reassigned Numbers Database

FCC’s Action on Reassigned Numbers Database Punts Key Questions to Potential Ruling Stemming from ACA Litigation

If you are interested in sharing articles and analysis on legal cases, industry laws and regulations or other relevant topics for possible publication with ACA International, email our Communications Department at [email protected].

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