Benton Joins Groups Warning FCC Flawed ‘Robotext’ Order May Hurt Consumers, Reduce Federal Broadband Funding

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Public Knowledge joined 19 other public interest, rural, Native American, and consumer groups (including the Benton Foundation) in a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to either issue a new Public Notice examining the classification of text messaging and short codes, or to classify both as Title II telecommunications services. 

On December 12, the FCC will vote on a Declaratory Ruling in the “Text Messaging Classification” proceeding. As currently written, the FCC’s draft Order will formally classify text messaging as a Title I information service under the Communications Act. Doing so will enable wireless carriers to discriminate against short-messaging services (SMS) and short codes, the standard five or six-digit vanity numbers used by organizations such as Catholic Relief Services for disaster relief campaigns, or by political campaigns and marketing firms. Public Knowledge, which has long spearheaded efforts to classify text messaging as a Title II “common carrier” telecommunications service, believes this action undermines the public’s right to use text messaging without undue interference from wireless companies. In addition to these concerns, the letter expresses concern that the proposed Order does not address how the potential loss of billions of dollars in revenue will impact the federal Universal Service Fund (USF), the primary federal subsidy for affordable telephone and broadband access.

Other signatories include Communications Workers of America, Consumer Reports, National Digital Inclusion Alliance, National Hispanic Media Coalition, and Tribal Digital Village Network.

Groups Warn FCC Flawed ‘Robotext’ Order May Hurt Consumers, Reduce Federal Broadband Funding Read the letter Read the Ex Parte Filing