In USA, the FCC claims to be giving wireless carriers more influence in halting spam over text messages.
Critics, however, assert the commission may empower carriers to block legitimate content.
The FCC recently chose to reclassify SMS and MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) messages as “information services” instead of “telecommunication services,” which would’ve have subjected the messaging services to more regulations.
As information services, wireless carriers can keep combatting spam and scam robotext messages without going through regulatory hurdles.
“The FCC shouldn’t make it easier for spammers and scammers to bombard consumers with unwanted texts,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement in supporting the move.
However, according to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, it was actually about censorship.
“Let’s be honest, today’s FCC decision offers consumers no new ability to stop robotexts,” she said in a tweet.
“It simply provides that carriers can block our text messages and censor the very content of the messages themselves.”
The reclassification request came from a 2015 petition by Twilio, a cloud provider that helps companies send text messages.
The petition was filed on complaints that wireless carriers were blocking text messages Twilio’s clients had been exchanging with their customers.
In 2007, free speech advocate Public Knowledge also petitioned the FCC over the risk of wireless carriers blocking legitimate text messages, but from activist groups.
Reclassifying SMS and MMS messages as telecommunication services would have made it illegal for wireless carriers to filter out legitimate text messages. But the change now opens the door for potential SMS text censorship, critics say.
However, the FCC says the reclassification will have no impact on the legitimate text messages consumers send and receive.
Carriers have “every incentive” to deliver the SMS text consumers want in order to retain customer loyalty, the commission said in its ruling.