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 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.