Trump Campaign Angry That Cell Carriers Blocked Company Texts To Voters

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Trump Campaign Angry That Cell Carriers Blocked Company Texts To Voters(arstechnica.com)






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from theunsolicited-messagesdept.

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica:

President Trump’s re-election campaign has accused Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile of “suppression of political speech” over the carriers’ blocking of spam texts sent by the campaign. The fight was described Wednesday in an in-depth article by Business Insider and other reports. “The Trump campaign has been battling this month with the biggest US cellphone carriers over an effort to blast millions of cell users with texts meant to coax them to vote or donate,” Business Insider wrote. “President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, didn’t appreciate it when AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile blocked mass campaign texts to voters. He called the companies to complain, setting off the legal wrangling.”

When contacted by Ars, a Trump campaign spokesperson said that “any effort by the carriers to restrict the campaign from contacting its supporters is suppression of political speech. Plain and simple.” The Trump campaign statement also said it “stands by the compliance of its texting programs” with the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and Federal Communications Commission guidelines. Business Insider wrote that “the showdown got serious at the start of July when Trump’s team sent a blast of texts to people who hadn’t signed up for them,” and “a third-party firm hired to screen such messages for the major cellphone companies blocked the texts.” The article said that campaign lawyers and the carriers “are still fighting over what kinds of messages the campaign is allowed to send and what the companies have the power to stop.” Politico wrote about the dispute on Monday. “People familiar with the chain of events said Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T flagged potential regulatory problems with the peer-to-peer messaging operation, which differs from robo-texting in that texts are sent individually, as opposed to a mass blast,” Politico wrote. “But within Trump’s orbit, the episode has further fueled suspicions that big tech companies are looking to influence the election.”

The Trump campaign has not explained why the texts are legal and shouldn’t have been blocked. They also didn’t say how many people they tried to send the texts to, or whether the texts were unsolicited or sent to people who had signed up for campaign communications.

Carriers “viewed the texts as a possible violation of federal anti-robocall laws and Federal Communications Commission rules that come with hefty fines,” Business Insider reported, citing information provided by “two Republicans familiar with the effort.” Trump “campaign operatives” contend that its texting “exists in a legal gray area that allows campaigns to blast cellphone users if the messages are sent manually,” Business Insider also wrote.

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