Mobile Advocacy Coalition: Protecting SMS Marketing

Earlier this week, Justin told us about the potential $90 million ruling against Simon & Schuster for sending unsolicited text messages promoting the Steven King novel Cell (which itself, ironically, is about the really, really dark side of SMS). The court decreed that the publisher violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) because messages were sent through an automatic telephone dialing system. Now, legitimate mobile marketing service providers are stepping up to protect their industry–and to protect the integrity of a communication platform with which consumers really do want to be reached.

The company Ez Texting is spearheading lobbying efforts to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, to protect mobile marketing technology companies from being sued due to the misuse of their services. It has begun an organization called the Mobile Advocacy Coalition, whose website,, includes information on how other mobile tech providers can become involved.

Ez Texting’s Shane Neman tells me: “Fax broadcasters and the [cellular] carriers have specific exemptions by the FCC as they are considered to be ‘mere conduits.’ However, SMS aggregators, providers, and software developers do not. We too are merely the technology providers, and yet still can be liable under the law because no specific exemption is exists for us.”

The coalition wants to file a Petition for Declaratory Ruling with the FCC, asking the agency to find:

  1. That the TCPA does not reach underlying technology providers.
  2. That the “sender” for TCPA liability purposes is the user of the mass texting technology, not the technology provider.
That second point, of course, underscores the importance of best practices. The Mobile Marketing Association, and even the CTIA, need to lead the way so that well-meaning legitimate marketers, like Simon & Schuster, know exactly they should and shouldn’t do in a mobile campaign.