Text and Multimedia Messaging: Emerging Issues for Congress [May 18, 2011]   [open pdf - 381KB]

"For Congressional policymakers, two major categories of issues have arisen: (1) 'same problem, different platform' and (2) issues stemming from the difficulty in applying existing technical definitions to a new service, such as whether a text message is sent 'phone-to-phone' or using the phone's associated email address. There are numerous examples of each. An example of the first category would be consumer fraud and children's accessing inappropriate content, which have existed previously in the 'wired world,' but have now found their way to the 'wireless world.' An example of the second category would be that spam sent between two phones or from one phone to many phones does not fall under the definition of spam in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, P.L. 108-187); however, if that same message were to be sent from a phone or computer using the phone's associated e-mail address, it would. The increasing use of text and multimedia messaging has raised several policy issues: distracted driving, SMS spam, the inability of consumers to disable text messaging, text messaging price fixing, carrier blocking of common short code messages, deceptive and misleading common short code programs, protecting children from inappropriate content on wireless devices, 'sexting,' mobile cyberbullying, privacy of text messages, and using SMS to support law enforcement and emergency response."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34632
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