FCC Votes to Classify Text Messages as Information Service, Gives Carriers More Power

The Federal Communications Commission has voted this week on a party-line vote to classify text messages in a specific way that will give wireless carriers even more power.

The FCC has officially voted to classify text messages as an information service, which means carriers will have more power over text messages moving forward. According to the FCC’s Chairman, Ajit Pai, argues that this will give the carriers more ability to block incoming spam text messages. There’s no doubt that robotexts have become an issue, just like robocalls as well.

Before the vote, Pai said that the “FCC should not make it easier for spammers and scammers to bombard consumers with unwanted texts”, with the resolution being to avoid that altogether.

Of course, it’s not all necessarily good news. While the FCC has voted to classify texts already, consumer advocacy groups have weighed in and said that the decision might not be for the best for wireless subscribers. These agencies, and some government officials, have said that text messages should see more regulation across the board, strictly as a telecommunications service. Now, with the information services classification, carriers can simply block text messages they don’t approve of across the board, while avoiding fears of breaking the law.

“This decision does nothing to curb spam, and is not needed to curb spam,” says Harold Feld, senior vice president at Public Knowledge, which has pushed the agency to classify texts as a telecommunications service. “It is simply the latest example of Chairman Pai’s radical agenda that puts companies ahead of consumers.” Public Knowledge has pointed to controversial decisions, like Verizon’s move to block texts from an abortion rights group in 2007, as a reason for the stricter rules.”

As someone who gets a ton of robotexts on a semi-regular basis, I want these things to go away already. I can only get so many stupid texts with hyperlinks that talk about scam real estate deals. Still, giving more power to companies like AT&T and Verizon to curb texts, without having anything to really worry about on the legal end, does seem a bit too much power going their way.

[via The Verge]