The wireless industry needs more help from the U.S. government to catch and prosecute spammers, CTIA president Steve Largent said in a letter to the FCC late last week.
Spam in the form of unsolicited calls and texts accounted for more than half of all consumer complaints in the past 6 months under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the CTIA said. Wireless carriers already block up to 200 million texts per month but many times the senders cannot be located and brought to justice without government help, the industry lobbyist group said.
Although the CTIA usually calls for less government action, in this case, “I am writing to urge the commission to work with wireless carriers to increase enforcement efforts against third parties… I offer the wireless industry’s full assistance and cooperation,” Largent’s letter stated. Wireless carriers’ costs could rise if more government help is not received, he warned.
The CTIA also cited wireless spam as a reason the government should avoid regulating short codes and SMS as Title II (telecommunications) services. Spammers could then escape convictions by claiming the messages are protected speech, said CTIA spokesman Joe Farren.
Farren admitted it is a controversial issue. Citizens’ rights group Public Knowledge said short codes and SMS need federal regulation because of issues such as the NARAL controversy last year, in which Verizon Wireless initially declined the abortion rights group’s texting campaign, Public Knowledge spokesman Art Brodsky said.
“It’s sort of a gray area in the FCC regulations now about whether text messaging is a protected service,” Brodsky said. “We think it ought to be. It has nothing to do with spam.”