Mobile firms vie for last word on text spam

Feuding mobile firms Revolution Messaging and ccAdvertising filed final comments regarding text message spam to the Federal Communications Commission on Monday.   When anti-Obama text messages hit the phones of several D.C.-based journalists in late October, ccAdvertising was linked to the domains the messages originated from. CcAdvertising has defended its method of email-to-text messaging—whereby cell numbers are collected without consent and messaged via created email addresses—as an exercise of free speech under the Technology Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).   Revolution Messaging’s founder Scott Goodstein hopes to change that with his petition to have the technology declared a form of autodialing by the FCC.

“While the election is over, our team's pursuit to fight misleading nefarious political text message spam has not stopped,” he said in a statement. “We are committed to seeking out a declaratory ruling from the FCC that truly puts an end to any and all unauthorized & unsolicited political text message spam from anonymous sources.”   In its reply comments to Revolution Messaging’s petition, ccAdvertising argues Goodstein’s interpretation of the TCPA goes against both Congress’ intent and the First Amendment—anonymous text messages having proven an important political tool. Instead, the company urges the FCC to create a clear exception for texting where the recipient isn’t charged—going so far as to prevent wireless carriers from using third-party services to block political speech and states from passing laws regulating prerecorded voice messages in interstate political calls.   “Only by protecting the mobile phone channel can the Commission ensure that the electorate is engaged in the process and can receive information from candidates and other organizations,” reads their rebuttal.   Meanwhile, Revolution Messaging argues that conceding to ccAdvertising’s request would lead to an assault on the privacy rights of individual citizens. The firm points out ccAdvertising’s “technology is capable of sending a practically unlimited number of text messages to individual consumers”—a problem because they can’t control for the number of recipients charged for the text messages they receive.   “Indeed, as RM pointed out in its original comments, if the Commission permits use of this technology as a means of circumventing the TCPA, that will make the public reluctant to receive text messages of any kind—even with prior consent—in political and advocacy campaigns, thereby decreasing the amount of political and advocacy speech that is legitimately communicated through this promising new technology,” read their final comment. “Such a result would not be consistent with the objectives of the First Amendment.”

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