FCC Releases NPRM on Blocking Illegal Text Messages

On September 27, 2022, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on a proposal requiring mobile wireless providers to block illegal text messages to consumers.  Specifically, the NPRM seeks comment on the following:

  • Mandatory Blocking of Text Messages: The NPRM seeks comment on mandatory blocking at the network level of text messages that purport to be from invalid, unallocated, or unused numbers, and numbers on the Do-Not-Originate (“DNO”) list.  The FCC also seeks comment on the extent to which providers are already conducting this sort of blocking for text messages, the extent to which spoofing is a problem, the need for mandatory blocking, standards to ensure competitively- and content-neutral grounds for blocking, how to protect erroneous blocking of emergency texts, and how to mitigate erroneous blocking, among other things.
  • Applying Caller ID Authentication Requirements to Text Messages: The NPRM seeks comment on extending the STIR/SHAKEN framework to text messages, including what additional work would need to be completed to extend STIR/SHAKEN to text messages, whether additional network upgrades are required, how long it would take to implement authentication for text messages, the scope of any implementation for authentication for text messages, whether the FCC should require providers with non-IP networks to develop a non-IP solution to authenticate text messages, billing for authentication, and display requirements, among other things.
  • Other Actions to Address Illegal Text Messages: The NPRM seeks comment on additional actions the FCC can take to address illegal text messages including how consumer education can help address the problem, roles advisory committees might play, and whether there are practices consumers and companies can adopt to maintain trust in text messages.
  • Legal Authority: The NPRM seeks comment on the FCCs legal authority under section 251(e) of the Communications Act to impose authentication of text messaging.
  • The Cost Benefit Analysis: The NPRM suggests that blocking of illegal texts would achieve an annual benefit floor of more than $6.3 billion and that it would likely reduce the long term cost to providers given the reduction in network congestion.  The NPRM seeks comment on these conclusions and any additional costs or benefits text message authentication may provide.

Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Reply comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The FCC also released a Press Release on the NPRM, noting the threat the illegal text messages pose to consumers and providing information on how consumers can keep themselves safe.

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