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December 03, 2012

FCC Backs SoundBite over Right to Send Single Confirmation Text Message to Consumer

By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor

The FCC (News - Alert) has basically ruled in favor of SoundBite Communications supporting the position that organizations can send a single confirmation text message in response to a request by consumers to not get additional messages.

“The ruling clarifies that sending a single opt-out confirmation after a consumer opts out of receiving text messages from a company does not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA),” SoundBite said in a statement in response to the ruling. “Sound public policy was clearly a guiding principle in removing the ambiguity around sending consumers confirmatory opt-out text messages.”

Both consumers and businesses will benefit because consumers are kept informed and companies “have complete clarity on how to handle consumer opt-outs,” the company claims.

SoundBite’s request before the FCC was supported by CTIA-The Wireless Association (CTIA), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Mobile Marketing Association (News - Alert) (MMA), the Council of Better Business Bureaus, and other business groups.

“Consumers deserve to know that their opt-out message requests are properly recorded, confirmed and executed,” SoundBite CEO Jim Milton explained in a statement. “We are pleased that this favorable ruling removes the ambiguity many companies, including SoundBite, faced and enables us to provide the best consumer experience possible.  As a result of our diligent efforts, SoundBite has now created a path for organizations across a multitude of industries to effectively eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars of potential exposure to lawsuits.”

The MMM was among the groups that praised SoundBite’s role.

"This is a testament to SoundBite's leadership and those that came to support their petition for an FCC declaratory ruling that confirms messaging is a valuable tool for marketing.," Michael Becker, managing director, MMA North America, said in the statement. "By establishing a consumer preference model for mobile marketing communications, messaging best practices will continue to evolve and play an integral role for the marketing and carrier community.” 

The ruling will likely stop related class action lawsuits, such as one where Barclays Banks paid about $8 million.

The statement the bank had sent was, "You will no longer receive text alerts from Barclaycard to this number. If you have questions, call 866-408- 4070," according to The Legal Times.

American Express (News - Alert), Citibank, GameStop, NASCAR Holdings, the National Football League, and Redbox Automated Retail are facing similar class action cases, The Legal Times adds.

“The FCC stressed that the ruling applies only when the company received prior expressed consent to send the consumer text messages,” The Legal Times said.

The decision also is “limited to a confirmation text, and does not extend to a follow-up confirmation voice call,” the FCC decision added.

Apparently, not everyone is happy with the decision. Delicia Reynolds Hand, legislative director for the National Association of Consumer Advocates, had argued before the FCC that "The consumer will know they will not receive additional unwanted texts by simply not receiving any additional texts."

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida.  Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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