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President Trump's re-election campaign has accused Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile of "suppressing political speech" because the airlines have blocked the campaign's spam text.
The fight was described in a detailed article by Business Insider and other reports on Wednesday. "The Trump campaign has struggled this month with the largest US mobile operators to shower millions of mobile users with text to persuade them to vote or donate," Business Insider wrote. "President Donald Trump's adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did not appreciate it when AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile blocked mass campaign texts for voters. He called the companies to complain and triggered the legal dispute . "
When a spokesman for the Trump campaign was contacted by Ars, he said, "Any effort by the airlines to prevent the campaign from contacting their supporters is a suppression of political speech. Plain and simple." The Trump campaign's statement also states that it stands "to comply with its SMS programs" with the U.S. Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Federal Communications Commission guidelines.
We asked the Trump campaign to explain exactly why the texts are legal and should not be blocked, but have received no response. The Trump campaign also did not answer our questions about how many people were attempted to send the text, whether the text was not requested or sent to people who had signed up for campaign communication.
We asked both the Trump campaign and the airlines whether they agreed to use text for the rest of this year's presidential campaign, but received no responses.
Business Insider wrote that "the showdown in early July got serious when Trump's team sent a lot of texts to people who hadn't signed up for them," and "hired a third party company to check such messages for the big cell phone companies have the texts." "The article said the campaign lawyers and carriers" are still arguing about what types of messages the campaign is allowed to send and what power companies have to stop ".
Politico wrote about the dispute on Monday. "Individuals familiar with the chain of events said Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T reported potential regulatory issues with the peer-to-peer messaging process, which differs from robo-texting in that Texts are sent individually, as opposed to a mass explosion. "Politico wrote. "But within Trump's orbit, the episode further fueled suspicions that large technology companies are trying to influence the election."
"Hello, it's Pres. Trump."
A Trump campaign text reportedly broadcast this week said, "Hi, it's Pres. Trump. I need your help as soon as possible to fight back against the radical left and take back my majority. Take a position NOW." Trump campaign texts reviewed by Business Insider had no option to unsubscribe, the news agency article said.
Carrier "viewed the texts as a potential violation of federal anti-robocall laws and the Federal Communications Commission’s fines," Business Insider said, citing information from "two Republicans familiar with the effort." are".
Trump's "campaign workers" claim that their SMS "exists in a legal gray area that allows campaigns to blow up cell phone users if the messages are sent manually," Business Insider also wrote. TCPA restrictions apply to messages sent using an "automatic phone dialer".
The FCC says its rules "prohibit sending text messages sent to a cell phone using an auto dialer unless you have previously given consent to receive the message or the message is being sent for emergencies," and that Customers "should be able to refuse to receive texts." "
According to Business Insider, the Trump campaign also argues that a recent FCC ruling "relaxed the rules for what counts as spam." This FCC regulation, which is contested by the National Consumer Law Center and other consumer protection groups, reads as follows:
By making this determination, we make it clear that the fact that a call platform or other device is used to make calls or send text to a large number of telephone numbers is not evidence of whether this device is an autodialer under the TCPA . Instead, we make it clear that if a calling platform is unable to make a call or send a text without a person actively and positively dialing manually, that platform is not an autodialer and calls or texts that come with it TCPAs are not subject to restrictions on calls and SMS to mobile phones. We further acknowledge that even if a party uses an auto dialer to send a message, it may be able to avoid TCPA liability by obtaining the recipient's prior express consent.
We have asked the FCC to investigate whether the Trump campaign texts violate robot text and spam rules, and will update this article if we receive a response.
CTIA: Senders require "prior approval"
Carriers are silent publicly about the dispute with Trump's campaign. When contacting Ars, Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile declined to comment or answer our questions. T-Mobile informed Ars that there were "inaccurate reports" on the subject, but did not say what was reported inaccurately. Verizon and AT&T referred our questions to the CTIA mobile industry lobby group, but CTIA declined to answer our questions about the Trump texts.
However, CTIA made a general statement: "We expect all senders – be it airlines, schools, banks, or campaigns – to include a clear opt-out language and get prior consent before sending a text. These simple steps help protect the consumer from spam and maintain text messages as a trusted medium for everyone. "
The third company that blocked the texts on behalf of the carriers is Zipwhip, a Republican source quoted by Business Insider. Zipwhip told Ars that "it is unable to comment on our contracts, customers, or their SMS traffic."
"Zipwhip's compliance process requires all SMS traffic to comply with industry guidelines, including, where appropriate, the requirement to get the message recipient's consent," the company told Ars. "The goal of the industry standard is to protect consumers from unwanted messages Protect messages and spam and maintain confidence in SMS as a communication medium. "
CTIA issued a number of "messaging principles and best practices" last year to "clarify that companies should seek consent before sending text messages to consumers."
Consumers get more unwanted political texts
Last week, CTIA published a blog specifically about spam texts from political campaigns. "Text messaging can be a very powerful and effective way of organizing, informing and engaging voters, but only if used properly," wrote CTIA. "Billions of texts are being sent out of political campaigns by both parties, and we are increasingly hearing from customers that they receive texts that they do not want to receive."
Text senders should "only communicate with consumers who have signed in and tell consumers how to unsubscribe, for example by responding to" STOP ", fulfilling these opt-out requests and setting clear privacy and security policies and practices "said CTIA.