EZ Texting CEO Fires Back at CTIA Over its SMS Short Code Auditing

On Friday we told you about a new initiative by CTIA to audit all SMS short codes for regulation compliance.  While it sounds like an initiative aimed at the betterment of the industry in general, a closer look reveals just how unfair and unrealistic the audit really is. To understand exactly what CTIA is trying …   Read More

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On Friday we told you about a new initiative by CTIA to audit all SMS short codes for regulation compliance.  While it sounds like an initiative aimed at the betterment of the industry in general, a closer look reveals just how unfair and unrealistic the audit really is.

To understand exactly what CTIA is trying to do and what it means for the SMS marketing industry, Shane Neman, CEO of SMS provider EZ Texting, wrote an excellent post entitled “CTIA’s Illegal Short Code Auditing – A Playbook to Kill America’s Wireless Innovators.”  In it, he details how EZ Texting was contacted in regards to CTIA’s new short code auditing process and why such audits are unfair, unreasonable and inherently “broken.”

“CTIA, acting on behalf of the carriers, has issued dozens of alleged violations against Ez Texting’s use of its short codes,” explained Neman in his post.  “Why? Violations by our clients of nonsensical, often contradictory and ever changing Consumer Best Practices promulgated by the Mobile Marketing Association.  What sort of violations?  Things as trivial as improperly advertising Keyword Calls To Action on abandoned MySpace pages, for example, or publicizing a short code without mentioning specific phrasing such as Msg&Data Rates May Apply.”

EZ Texting isn’t the only company receiving these alleged “violations,” however, as several SMS providers have now been forced to stop everything to track down clients to police the way they advertise their short codes Online.  As Neman points out in his post, the auditing process has been found to be completely inconsistent and, in many ways, illegal.

“We take these matters seriously, but after reviewing these alleged violations we firmly believe that the CTIA is acting in a way that harms small businesses and consumers – and in doing so breaking the law. Further, we believe that the auditing process itself is highly inconsistent. Large brands and businesses repeatedly commit egregious, high profile violations yet are rarely held accountable. At the same CTIA expects small businesses like Ez Texting to submit to ongoing audits according to these arcane, constantly changing and illegal rules. We have provided an appendix below highlighting how Twitter, operator of one of the highest volume text messaging programs in the world does not and could not comply with these guidelines. This is not to single out Twitter; rather it is to show how the largest businesses operate beyond the dictatorial whims of the carriers.”

So what should happen?  Neman sees one of two logical outcomes . . .

1) CTIA and the carriers should immediately abandon these illegal efforts or 2) The FCC should do their job and rule on the petition regarding text messaging’s common-carrier status, which would make this entire issue moot. The small businesses and entrepreneurs struggling to compete, innovate, and launch new businesses should be protected from the oligarchic whims of the carrier cartel. We call upon other short code marketers, aggregators and operators to stand up for their legal rights. Rights are not handed to you. If you believe in what you do you need to fight for these rights – otherwise CTIA will continue to break the law in a way that harms your businesses.

Feel free to give us your thoughts on this in the comments.  Companies like EZ Texting have started a petition to fight back against CTIA, which can be viewed and signed here.

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3 comments

  1. Alex Mittelstaedt

    I agree with Ez Texting's CEO Shane Neman, that the CTIA's "playbook" (aka the MMA Consumer Best Practices) is a million shades of gray and extremely difficult to enforce across client campaigns. The bottom line, however, is that our clients (as well as yours) better be in full compliance with these rules or we risk being shut down. We've instructed each and every one of our campaign admins (with videos, guides and blog posts) of the campaign advertisement requirements and other guidelines. And the result? Happier clients and clearer campaign calls to action. These are the rules. We're not going to risk our necks and pretend they simply don't exist, just because we don't want to take the time to follow them. And yes, Twitter and other giants are not punished for breaking them and it feels extremely unfair, but all I can say is good luck with using that as your excuse when the CTIA gives you your last warning.

    I agree 100% agree with Derek that the most important issue at hand here is the permission-free IMPORTING of mobile phone numbers. We can debate following the rules on advertising a campaign to the death, but at the end of the day the mobile user still takes out their phone and opts in to that SMS campaign. The real problem that the CTIA needs to be focused on here is the ease of simply uploading phone numbers with any consent at all. Many providers out there are letting this happen, including Shane's company, Ez Texting. Why is the focus elsewhere?

  2. Spillemaskiner

    In my opinion the CTIA is enforcing the wrong rules, only making a dent in possible spam prevention… To really make a dent, the CTIA needs to go after SMS platforms like EzTexting who allow their customers to import phone numbers and text message them without confirmation.
    NICE INFORMATION DUDE!!!!!

  3. Derek Johnson

    It's comical to see a company that has been sued for sending text message spam, had their short code turned off by a carrier and allows un-checked text message spam to go rampant on their platform to be leading this fight. You ever see how many complaints they have from consumers here? http://www.smswatchdog.com/text-message-from/3131

    In my opinion the CTIA is enforcing the wrong rules, only making a dent in possible spam prevention… To really make a dent, the CTIA needs to go after SMS platforms like EzTexting who allow their customers to import phone numbers and text message them without confirmation.

    Just my thoughts…

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