The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the regulatory body governing telecommunications in the United States, has finally taken action against robo-text messages. These unsolicited texts, also known as robotexts or spam text messages, have been a nuisance for mobile phone users for years. The FCC has stepped in to put an end to this practice, which has been a persistent problem for consumers.
Robo-texts are automated text messages sent to a large number of phone numbers, often promoting products or services the recipient has no interest in. They can be annoying, interruptive, and can also carry security risks if they contain links to malware or fraudulent websites. Despite being illegal in the United States, these texts continue to flood the mobile networks.
The FCC has announced new rules that will further restrict the use of robo-texts. The new guidelines target businesses that send text messages using automated dialing systems. Under the new regulations, companies will have to obtain the recipient’s written consent before sending robotexts. This written consent must be clearly formatted and explicitly state the purpose of the automated text messages.
The move by the FCC represents a long-awaited attempt to shut down robo-texts. The use of automated dialing systems is already regulated under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which prohibits the use of automatic dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded voices to call or text mobile phone numbers without prior consent. The act was introduced in 1991 in response to the growing number of telemarketing calls being made.
Despite the TCPA being in place, the use of robo-texts has continued to be a problem for phone users. The new rules introduced by the FCC will provide greater protection to consumers from unwanted text messages. The organization has stated that the new rules will help to prevent consumers from being bombarded by unwanted text messages, and offer more control over the types of messages they receive.
The FCC has stressed that companies should not assume that receipt of a message from a consumer is indicative of their consent to future messages. The written consent obtained by a company must be specific to the campaign for which it was obtained, and cannot be assumed to extend to future marketing campaigns. The new rules come into effect from April 2022.
The FCC has also proposed new rules to prevent the fraudulent use of text messages. The new proposal would require phone companies to implement a new authentication system for text messaging, known as STIR/SHAKEN. This system would allow phone carriers to verify the authenticity of text messages, preventing the use of spoofed numbers, which enables scammers to pose as legitimate businesses.
The use of STIR/SHAKEN has already been mandated for telephone calls by the FCC, but now the proposal would extend this to text messages. The proposal would also require phone carriers to implement a database of registered phone numbers, which would allow businesses to be verified before they can send texts using automated dialing systems.
These measures by the FCC mark a significant step in the fight against nuisance text messages. Phone users have been crying out for a solution to this problem, and the FCC’s response shows that it is keen to protect consumers from this type of unsolicited messaging. Many have called for the introduction of tougher penalties for those found to be in breach of the new rules.
The FCC’s move to clamp down on robo-texts is a welcome development, which will help to protect consumers from being bombarded by unwanted text messages. The new rules will help to give phone users greater control over the types of messages they receive, and provide a clear pathway for those who wish to opt-out of receiving automated texts. With the new regulations coming into effect in 2022, many will be hopeful that this marks the end of the robo-text era.