T-Mobile: Double Opt-In No Longer Required

T-Mobile has decided, effective immediately, that it will no longer require marketers and other senders of commercial, non-premium SMS to have double opt-in for their subscribers.

Double opt-in, in case you don’t know, is the process in which a marketer ensures that a subscriber really did mean to sign up to receive marketing SMS messages. Usually (including in the case of T-mobile) it means that after the consumer sends a keyword to a short code, the marketer sends the person message asking to confirm the subscription by texting back the word YES.

There’s two sides to this news. On one hand, Mobile Marketer notes that application program briefs will be much simpler, and in turn could result in quicker approvals of new short code programs. (Short code provisioning is a major issue for marketers, you may recall from a recent guest column.) And T-mobile was the last major U.S. carrier to drop the double opt-in requirement.

However, legitimate marketers know the importance of double opt-in; it’s even part of the Mobile Marketing Association’s best practices guidelines. Double opt-in ensures that people want to receive messages before they’re sent out. It’s a way to soothe consumer fears of getting SMS spam.

Well, best-practicers don’t need carriers or other authorities to tell them the most proper way to conduct themselves. They’ve been engaging in double opt-in longer than carriers had required it. So they can should still choose, on their own, to make double opt-in part of their campaigns. As a First Amendment kind of gal, I like the idea of letting the industry regulate itself, rather than impose censorship.

Meanwhile, those who say that double opt-in turned off potential subscribers now have nothing to blame when consumers don’t sign up for their messages.