Ajit Pai Intros Plan to Block Spam Texts -- But It's Not Without Controversy
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed new regulations that he says would cut down on spam text messaging. Sounds like a welcome policy change. No one likes spam. However, it’s not without controversy. Pai is calling on his fellow Commissioners to approve a reassigned numbers database which would help legitimate callers know whether telephone numbers have been reassigned to somebody else before calling those numbers so they can direct their calls to parties who asked for them rather than individuals who have subsequently obtained those reassigned numbers. The more controversial measure Pai is proposing, however, would give text messaging the same legal status as high-speed Internet, in effect, offering wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon added leeway to block and filter text messages they recognize as spam. The FCC will consider these items at its next Open Commission Meeting on December 12th. It echoes the same argument Pai used when he tackled net neutrality. However, some rights groups say the FCC's light-touch solutions won't be enough to protect consumers -- and privacy advocates worry it could have the same underwhelming result. Pai’s move has drawn fire from consumer advocacy groups which say the government had already made abundantly clear in 2016 that wireless carriers had narrow permission to block and filter unwanted texts. The new measure could instead give telecom companies wider latitude to block even legitimate text messages. Pai’s new rules come as a Democratic-controlled House is preparing a significantly increased amount of oversight on the agency. More here.