FCC asks for comments on mobile phone spam

Cell phones should be 'spam-free zones,' said FCC Chairman Michael Powell

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted today to begin a proceeding and seek comments on protecting mobile phone customers from unwanted e-mail and text messages.

The FCC will seek comments on how to protect consumers and businesses from the costs and inconveniences of receiving unwanted commercial e-mail and text messages on wireless devices such as mobile phones.

The FCC's notice of proposed rulemaking comes in response to the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003, which went into effect in January. CAN-SPAM requires the FCC to create rules to protect consumers from unwanted commercial messages on their mobile devices.

The FCC has asked for comments on several spam issues, including:

  • Whether senders can determine whether a message is going to a mobile device, and ways to enable a sender to make that determination. For instance, the FCC could decide whether there should be a list of, or standard naming convention for, domain names, or an individual registry of e-mail addresses. The FCC is also looking for comments on automatic challenge-response mechanisms that alert senders they are sending their message to mobile subscribers.
  • How to provide mobile subscribers with the ability to avoid commercial messages sent without their prior consent, and how to opt out of receiving future messages from specific senders.
  • Whether commercial cellular providers should be exempt from having to obtain express prior authorization before sending a commercial message to their customers.

The FCC proceeding will look for technical solutions to mobile phone spam, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement. "American consumers have every right to expect that their cell phones will be spam-free zones," he said. "With this broad proceeding, we comply with Congress' mandate, pursuant to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, to protect consumer and businesses from the cost, inefficiencies and inconveniences of unwanted messages sent to their wireless devices."

Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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