Republicans Want 'Ringless Voicemail' to Fill Your Inbox with Ads
The Republican National Committee hopes the FCC will approve a request from a marketing firm that would allow companies and organizations to silently send messages straight to consumers' cellphone voicemail inboxes. Such voicemails could be prerecorded political messages or even advertisements. The so-called "ringless voicemail" idea has been on the FCC's docket since March, when a marketing firm called All About the Message LLC asked the agency to approve its technology. All About the Message says its tech shouldn't be governed by robocalling regulations because it technically doesn't even qualify as phone calls. Moreover, the firm argues it won't interrupt consumers with automatic, robotic, dead-air phone calls at inconvenient times — behaviors that have helped define robocalls and the laws keeping them in check. The RNC supports All About Message's technology and suggested the FCC approve it lest political parties' First Amendment rights be trampled. "Political organizations like the RNC use all manner of communications to discuss political and governmental issues and to solicit donations — including direct-to-voicemail messages," said the RNC to the FCC in paperwork filed last week. "The Commission should tread carefully so as not to burden constitutionally protected political speech without a compelling interest." Consumer advocacy groups, including the National Consumer Law Center, say the change would amount to inbox pain for consumers. "I think it's unfortunate that there's a push by any political party to reduce the protections in [the robocall rules] for cellphones," said the NCLC's Margot Freeman Saunders in a statement provided to Recode. Saunders believes robocalls are one of many factors behind consumers' growing abandonment of landlines. Taking away the current rules could leave people "completely overwhelmed by messages" that cannot be prevented from filling their inboxes. The Democrats have not taken a side on the matter.
May 24, 2018
Two of the largest social networks are doing more to call out political advertisements. Both Facebook and Twitter today outlined their new policies, which should increase the visibility of ads that are purchased for political purposes.
May 11, 2017
Verizon Communications has won a bidding war for Straight Path Communications. AT&T announced plans to acquire Straight path for $1.6 billion last month.
Oct 30, 2018
Google today just made Gmail much more useful on iOS devices. The latest version of Google's mobile email app now allows users to view more than a single account at a time.
Jan 12, 2017
The FCC has fined Straight Path Communications $100 million for failing to deploy wireless service in accordance with spectrum license requirements. Straight Path is sitting on approximately 1,000 licenses for spectrum in the 39 GHz band, which will eventually be used for 5G.