Proposed robotext blocking rules up for vote

The FCC announced that they intend to vote on proposed rules for blocking illegal text messages. The vote is scheduled for their open meeting on March 16, 2023. Here’s an overview.

The Commission issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for blocking illegal text messages on September 27, 2022. We compared the rules proposed in the FNPRM with those mentioned in the Commission’s press release. Here’s what we found.

Text blocking rules are up for a vote in March

  • Mandatory blocking of text messages at the network level with purported calling numbers that appear to be:
    • On a reasonable Do-Not-Originate (DNO) list, or
    • Invalid, unallocated, or unused.
  • Mandatory blocking of text messages from upstream providers that are known to be transmitting illegal robotexts, once notified by the FCC.
  • Each mobile wireless provider must make public a single point of contact for text senders to request redress for blocked text messages.

STIR/SHAKEN call authentication may not be included in the rules

The FNPRM included proposed rules to require the use of STIR/SHAKEN call authentication on robotexts. The Commission received several comments and reply comments explaining that text message technology is different than voice call technology. With voice calls, it’s easy to spoof the calling number; with text messages, it is not possible. Therefore, STIR/SHAKEN is not necessary and would not be helpful with text messages.

It’s interesting that the proposed rules up for vote still include blocking of text messages sent from invalid, unallocated, unused, and DNO numbers. Since spoofing is not possible with text messaging, text messages cannot be sent from such numbers.

The news release indicates that, in addition to a Report and Order, there will be another FNPRM. This may invite further comments on STIR/SHAKEN and text messages.

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