back to article FCC slammed for 'arbitrary and reckless' plan to change how text messages are regulated

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been criticized as "arbitrary and reckless" for pushing a plan to change how text messages are regulated without looking at the impact it may have. More than 20 organizations have written [PDF] to the American regulator on Wednesday asking it to delay or reconsider its plan to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For some reason

    FCC stories really need some background music....Master of Puppets maybe? And an Ajit Pai marionette, although in his defence it's all of the FCC rather than just one man.

    The only positive note is that seeing large telco's playing so nicely to achieve a common aim suggests that enemies really can put there differences to one side and achieve something together.

    1. Mark 85

      Re: For some reason

      They're not enemies or competitors by any stretch. They've sliced and diced the country into their own little fiefdoms with no one to actually compete with them. So yes, they are achieve great things... like profits.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason isn't money

    Telecommunications interception of US citizens and those subject to US law are Constitutionally protected.

    Information services have lower protections.

    Hence, the downgrading. More snooping, easier warrants by dodging a technicality of law, via misclassification.

    Well, off to bed. I'll have some work to do in the morning, short circuiting this attempted debacle. And I know precisely which network I'll do that from and how.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: The reason isn't money

      "Information services have lower protections."

      Yes, and to fix THAT, you need CONGRESS to act, and NOT the FCC.

      This is likely to be addressed some time in the next few years, maybe within the next two. Politicians in the USA (including Trump) are often angered by the OBVIOUS filtering and discrimination and politically motivated 'editing' that's going on within the "big data" cartel (aka Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and, in the same way that Teddy Roosevelt (a republican) went after the monopolies and trusts at the turn of the 20th century, I bet Trump and many of our congress-critters will be wanting to do the same in the 21st century.

      And, THAT is where it NEEDS to be done, and NOT with over-the-bounds-stepping regulations from a gummint bureaucracy, namely the FCC. And the same with 'net neutrality' (which surprisingly isn't 'neutral' when you consider what I just said about the "big data" cartel filtering and editing and so on, and THEY seem to be ALL for THAT version of 'net neutrality' that was KILLED recently).

      (and who knows, maybe GDPR-like regs will make it into whatever law eventually gets passed, but CONGRESS has to do it, not bureaucracies)

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: The reason isn't money

      "The reason isn't just money "


  3. willi0000000

    comforting innit.

    it's so good to know that someone is watching over the telecos . . . it would be terrible if they missed any opportunity to screw over their customers.

    as far as content is concerned, i can't wait for a complete loss of messages from any and all groups considered "progressive" . . . and i'm sure that a "service" to repeat all t'Rump's tweets as text messages to every device in the country will be greenlighted and added to our bills.

    1. redpawn

      Re: comforting innit.

      How right you are. The economic benefits to private schools, real estate sales people and nanny services used by telcom execs should not be underestimated. When large corporations have more money, their executives support these industries. We should all hope the cash spigot is left wide open through lack of regulation so executive bonuses can trickle down.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: comforting innit.

        I am really tired of the anti-capitalist FUD.

        1. InNY

          Re: comforting innit.

          It's not anti-capitalist fud; it's wanting capitalism to work for all of us, not just the mega-corporations and the very rich.

          Surely, even you can see the benefits of making sure capitalism works for everyone in society. You know, like it used to.

      2. Fatman

        Re: comforting innit.

        <quote>We should all hope the cash spigot is left wide open through lack of regulation so executive bonuses can trickle down.</quote>

        Trickle down, MY ASS!!!

        Do you honestly think the executives are going to share those bonuses???

        There will be a giant sink stopper at the drain of the executive level preventing any such "trickle down".

        1. Teiwaz

          Re: comforting innit.

          @Fatman <i?Trickle down, MY ASS!!!</i>

          Did your sarcasm alarm fail to go off reading that post?

          OP Might have well have suggested executives offspring get state funded champagne instead of breaktime milk (not that many get even that these days, and if it were available there'd be a allergy crisis alert etc. just in case someone got given the wrong carton).

    2. holmegm

      Re: comforting innit.

      Project much?

      Twitter, Facebook, et al actually *have* been doing what you describe ... but not to "progressives".

      Nobody has been doing it to text messages.

    3. rskurat

      Re: comforting innit.

      exactly - a nicely orwellian-named "citizens notification service" charged at $1.99/month with weather & emergencies added as a figleaf

  4. ds6 Silver badge

    Every time I see a "FCC has done another no-no that only benefits Big Telco" post, my brain plays a recording of Ajit Pai—or, Paijeet, if you will—shooting a nerf gun and spinning noisemakers. Whoever supported inserting his worthless, money-grubbing existence into the position of chairman deserves a chair to the head. Can't wait for my internet to be throttled even harder because deregulation is saving all of us or whatever vapid garbage is exiting his septic gob.

    Where is my "indelible rage" icon?!

  5. Bushwood Smithie

    Universal Service Fund

    The article is backwards. Most telecommunications companies pass the USF fee straight through to their customers. The FCC collects this money from the telecoms -- and pays it right back to them as subsidies for certain types of service.

    This slush fund needs a stake through the heart.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: Universal Service Fund

      "This slush fund needs a stake through the heart."

      more like killing it to death by burning it with fire.

      or perhaps a more excessive 'overkill' method - see icon

      Like so many OTHER liberal "rob Peter to pay Paul" giveaway programs, _I_ will _NEVER_ see _ANY_ of that. I would NEVER choose to contribute to that kind of giveaway program, I do NOT want MY money paying for it via taxation or confiscation, and I _CERTAINLY_ wouldn't say "it's about the money" because "evil greedy corproations won't pay it".

      Its like the previous poster said: The PAYING CUSTOMERS are TAXED.

      I'm going to leave out the rant about who ends up getting the benefits of this. I think it's obvious what I'd say. And of course I'd have FACTS to back it up. But I'll spare you, anyway, even though this _REALLY_ bugs me.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: Universal Service Fund

        Like so many OTHER liberal "rob Peter to pay Paul" giveaway programs, _I_ will _NEVER_ see _ANY_ of that.

        Bob, do you carve a notch into your forearm with your penknife for every downvote or only for the occasional upvote?

  6. Daniel Hall

    Wtf uk

    Oh wait. Its not us being idiots this time.

    Carry on.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Aren't these the same telcos that greatly profited....

    ... from premium numbers and premium SMS used by dialers, ringtones, etc. scams?

    They'll block any spam for which they don't get a slice big enough of the cake only.

  8. arctic_haze

    To use a favourite Wikipedia phrase

    "text messages were originally an engineering function that the first mobile engineers left in and which telcos were initially extremely skeptical of"

    Citation needed.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: To use a favourite Wikipedia phrase

      "text messages were originally an engineering function that the first mobile engineers left in and which telcos were initially extremely skeptical of"

      Citation needed.

      Ok - not an official citation but here goes:

      Many, many years ago (mid-late 1990's), I worked at the Motorola tentacle responsible for making and selling cellular base-stations of mobile service providers. We also provided other services - one of which was one of the first txt message handlers, written for Cellnet (remember them?) and running off one of the big Sun servers that we had sat in our computer rooms. One of my friends was part of the team that wrote the message handler..

      And yes, before they worked out how to monetise it, the service providers were *extremely* resistant to offering the service to customers since it used up bandwidth on the control channels that had hitherto been reserved solely for engineering messages - something which would cost them money to expand if the service became popular.

      Of course, they ended up charging obscene multiples of the actual cost of the txt message (I remember them being in the order of 6p/txt when the actual cost was more of the order of .00001p/txt) because it made *lots* op money while costing very, very little.

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

        Re: To use a favourite Wikipedia phrase

        @CatMan: Thanks for the story. -------->

  9. TheSmokingArgus

    When Opportunity Comes a-Textin' She Will Ride...

    Well looks like yet another golden opportunity for a disruptive entrepreneur to come along and toss the apple cart and micturate in the lemonade of the oligarchs.

    Private equity will have a fun new outlet in which to flow.

  10. DropBear

    What in the name of...

    That anyone between a handset and another one gets to "not deliver" a text message is absolute news to me. Privacy issues aside (I never told the telco they may sift through what I type, even with a machine) I would plainly call that loss of service if it happened more than once and either move to another telco that doesn't do this or else encrypt every text I send or receive (99% of my texts go to a single, like-minded person).

  11. a_yank_lurker

    After a few years

    I suspect this dimbulbery will end up being tied up in the feral courts for many years no matter what the original stupidity is. Too much is at stake and the Native Criminal Class (aka Congress) is more interested in playing tit-for-tat games than doing what they are supposed do to fix the problem.

  12. JohnFen

    What is the end goal?

    What is the FCC's end goal here? I ask because this looks like a recipe to kill SMS.

  13. Mage Silver badge


    Almost all my Email spam is from USA entities

    About 1/4 is email address only used by ICANN

    "Opt out" is USELESS as that confirms you exist and read the message! An invitation to be resold and spammed under a different name.

    The USA needs to make ALL communication and marketing Opt in only, and no preselected opt in.

    FCC is captured by Mobile and massive USA Corps. Don't care about consumer at all.

  14. martinusher Silver badge

    ..and they know how to deal with objections

    The FCC received a lot of feedback about net neutrality. That part of it that wasn't from bots was overwhelmingly in favor of it. That didn't faze the FCC, they went ahead and ditched it anyway (and since then they've been fighting against state laws that mandate it). Since its difficult to defend the indefensible they came up with another line to justify their actions recently -- apparently the Russians are in favor of net neutrality and have been spreading their evil 'fluence using their nefarious hacking skills (and so Net Neutrality is, by definition, Bad).

    The same will happen with text messaging. If they can't cook the books openly then they'll just claim that the Russians want such and such and have been hacking right and left to influence things.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Subscriber,

    As a valued mobile customer we'd like to inform you of some small changes to your contract terms and conditions relating to text messages, following a change approved by the FCC.

    The free, text Tsunami Warning service which we were previously required to supply to you, whether you wanted it or not, has been replaced by a paid-for service costing just $250 per annum. Good news! - you have been automatically subscribed to the new service so you can continue to sleep soundly, knowing that you are protected.

    More good news! The free Forest Fire text alert service has been replaced by...

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