Text and Multimedia Messaging: Emerging Issues for Congress [June 22, 2011]   [open pdf - 382KB]

"The first text messages were sent during 1992 and 1993, although commercially, text messaging was not widely offered or used until 2000. Even then, messages could only be sent between users subscribed to the same wireless carrier, e.g., Sprint customers could only exchange messages with other Sprint customers. In November 2001, however, wireless service providers began to connect their networks for text messaging, allowing subscribers on different networks to exchange text messages. Since then, the number of text messages in the United States has grown to over 48 billion messages every month. Additionally, text messages are no longer only sent as 'point-topoint' communications between two mobile device users. More specifically, messages are also commonly sent from web-based applications within a web browser (e.g., from an Internet e-mail address) and from instant messaging clients like AIM or MSN. […] 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
Public Domain
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