Net neutrality classification extended to SMS

Glenn W. Peterson

The legal battle over net neutrality is something that most people in California have been well aware of during the past year. The state of California along with many businesses headquartered in California have voiced strong opposition to the federal government’s action to disband net neutrality. Exactly what will happen to net neutrality in California or throughout the country remains to be seen. In the meantime, however, the Federal Communications Commission has made a dramatic change in how text messages are classified.

As explained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, text messaging providers have been classified as common carriers by the FCC. The agency has now approved a change that would mean they are classified as information services, not common carries. If this change is allowed to remain in effect, some people fear that the service providers, such as AT&T and Verizon, may take advantage of the ability to censor messages and control what content people can or cannot receive.

For entities like charitable organizations, sending messages via SMS has proven to be an effective means of fundraising. Text messaging may also be used broadly for political content and purposes.

The original classification of common carrier prevented providers from blocking messages based on their content. It also required them to contribute to a fund that is designed to expand internet opportunities for people with low incomes or who live in rural areas that may have less access to internet connections or technologies. The response to this change by businesses that utilize text messaging may provide insight to the future of this approval.