On November 20, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed the implementation of a reassigned numbers database and a declaration that wireless providers are authorized to take measures to stop unwanted text messaging through use of autodialed text messaging (“robotext”)-blocking, anti-spoofing measures, and other anti-spam features. 

Calls to reassigned numbers can be a significant problem for legitimate businesses making calls for which they have prior consent and for consumers receiving unwanted messages.  To combat this problem, the draft order would establish a single database of reassigned numbers based on information provided by phone companies that obtain North American Numbering Plan U.S. geographic numbers. The database should help legitimate callers direct their calls to parties who asked for them rather than individuals who have subsequently obtained those reassigned numbers. 

As an increasing number of Americans rely on text messaging as a communications service, the draft Declaratory Ruling on text messaging would formally rule that text-messaging services are information services, not telecommunications services. This would allow carriers to continue using robotext-blocking and anti-spoofing measures to protect consumers from unwanted text messages. 

In the FCC press release announcing the proposal, Pai stated, “Combatting robocalls is our top consumer protection priority, and these proposals are a significant step forward in that effort.  Today, I am calling on the FCC to take additional measures to combat these calls and also to prevent a flood of spam robotexts from clogging Americans’ phones.” 

The FCC will consider these items at its Open Commission meeting on December 12.  

Troutman Sanders will continue to monitor the movement of these proposals and will report on any further developments.