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CITA Messaging Principles & Best Practices

Messaging Principles and Best Practices

July 2019

 

Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

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2.1 2.2 2.3

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3.1 3.2 3.3

Table of Contents

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 4 SCOPE 5

Purpose 5 Wireless Messaging Services 5 Scope, Limitations, & Disclaimer of Legal Guidance or Advice 6

WIRELESS MESSAGING ECOSYSTEM 7

Background 7 The Evolving Wireless Messaging Ecosystem 7 Messaging Ecosystem Roles 8

  1. 3.3.1  CONSUMER (P2P) 8

  2. 3.3.2  NON-CONSUMER (A2P) 8

  3. 3.3.3  WIRELESS FACILITIES-BASED SERVICE PROVIDERS (WIRELESS PROVIDERS) 8

  4. 3.3.4  MOBILE VIRTUAL NETWORK OPERATORS (MVNOS) 8

  5. 3.3.5  CLOUD-BASED PROVIDERS 8

  6. 3.3.6  INTER-CARRIER VENDORS (ICVS) 8

  7. 3.3.7  CONNECTION AGGREGATORS 8

  8. 3.3.8  COMPETITIVE LOCAL EXCHANGE CARRIERS (CLECS) 9

  9. 3.3.9  REGISTRARS 9

  10. 3.3.10  NETWORK SECURITY VENDORS 9

  11. 3.3.11  SERVICE PROVIDERS 9

  12. 3.3.12  MESSAGE SENDER OR SENDER 9

CONSUMER (P2P)/ NON-CONSUMER (A2P) TRAFFIC CLASSIFICATION 10

Consumer (P2P) Messaging 10

  1. 4.1.1  WHAT IS TYPICAL CONSUMER OPERATION? 10

  2. 4.1.2  CONSUMER (P2P) MESSAGING AUTOMATION 11

Non-Consumer (A2P) Messaging 11

NON-CONSUMER (A2P) BEST PRACTICES 12

Consumer Consent 12

  1. 5.1.1  MESSAGE SENDERS SHOULD PROVIDE CLEAR AND CONSPICUOUS CALLS-TO-ACTION 13

  2. 5.1.2  CONSUMER OPT-IN 13

    1. 5.1.2.1  Confirm Opt-In for Recurring Messages 14

    2. 5.1.2.2  Apply One Opt-In per Campaign 15

  3. 5.1.3  CONSUMER OPT-OUT 15

  4. 5.1.4  RENTING, SELLING, OR SHARING OPT-IN LISTS 15

  5. 5.1.5  MAINTAIN AND UPDATE CONSUMER INFORMATION 15

Privacy and Security 15

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4.1 4.2

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5.1

5.2

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

  1. 5.2.1  MAINTAIN AND CONSPICUOUSLY DISPLAY A CLEAR, EASY-TO-UNDERSTAND PRIVACY POLICY 15

  2. 5.2.2  IMPLEMENT REASONABLE PHYSICAL, ADMINISTRATIVE, AND TECHNICAL SECURITY CONTROLS

    TO PROTECT AND SECURE CONSUMER INFORMATION 16

  3. 5.2.3  CONDUCT REGULAR SECURITY AUDITS 16

5.3 Content

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  1. 5.3.1  PREVENTION OF UNLAWFUL ACTIVITIES OR DECEPTIVE, FRAUDULENT, UNWANTED, OR ILLICIT CONTENT 16

  2. 5.3.2  EMBEDDED WEBSITE LINKS 16

  3. 5.3.3  EMBEDDED PHONE NUMBERS 16

  1. 5.4  Text-Enabling a Telephone Number for Non-Consumer (A2P) Messaging 17

  2. 5.5  Other Non-Consumer (A2P) Message Best Practices 17

    1. 5.5.1  SHARED TELEPHONE NUMBERS AND SHORT CODES 17

    2. 5.5.2  SNOWSHOE MESSAGING 17

    3. 5.5.3  GREY ROUTES 17

    4. 5.5.4  COMMON SHORT CODES 17

    5. 5.5.5  PROXY NUMBERS 18

    6. 5.5.6  TEXT-ENABLED TOLL-FREE TELEPHONE NUMBERS 18

      1. 5.5.6.1  Authority to Text-Enable Rests with the Toll-Free Voice Subscriber 18

      2. 5.5.6.2  Transparency to Resp Orgs 19

      3. 5.5.6.3  Special Considerations for Shared-Use Toll-Free Telephone Numbers 19

6 SPECIAL USE CASES 20

  1. 6.1  Group Messaging 20

  2. 6.2  Spoofing Telephone Numbers 20

  3. 6.3  Registries 20

7 UNWANTED MESSAGING TRAFFIC THREAT CONTAINMENT 21

  1. 7.1  Core Principles 21

  2. 7.2  Unwanted Messaging Traffic Containment Best Practices 21

    1. 7.2.1.1  Consumer Tools for Blocking or Filtering 21

    2. 7.2.1.2  Reporting Unwanted Messaging Traffic 21

    1. 7.2.2  COMMUNICATION AMONG SERVICE PROVIDERS 22

    2. 7.2.3  BLOCKING UNWANTED MESSAGES AND SENDERS 22

    3. 7.2.4  SUSPENDING AND DISCONNECTING UNWANTED MESSAGING TRAFFIC 22

    4. 7.2.5  TRANSPARENCY OF TRAFFIC 22

    5. 7.2.6  MITIGATING UNWANTED MESSAGE ISSUES 22

    6. 7.2.7  NETWORK OPERATIONS CENTER 22

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

1 ExecutiveSummary

The Messaging Principles and Best Practices (Principles and Best Practices) is a set of voluntary best practices developed by CTIA’s member companies throughout the wireless messaging ecosystem. These Principles and Best Practices identify parameters for facilitating the exchange via transmission, storage, and retrieval (exchange) of Consumer (Person-to-Person (P2P)) and Non-Consumer (Application-to-Person (A2P)) messages via Wireless Provider messaging networks while protecting Consumers from Unwanted Messages.

Messaging’s popularity is largely attributable to its status as a trusted and convenient communications environment among Consumers. These Principles and Best Practices are intended to reflect the wireless industry’s efforts to preserve the trust in and utility of Wireless Providers’ messaging services. Thus, the objectives of this document are to support a robust and dynamic wireless messaging community where:

  • Consumers can exchange wanted messages with other Consumers;

  • Message Senders and Consumers can exchange wanted messages; and

  • Consumers are protected from Unwanted Messages, in conformity with applicable laws and

    regulations, such as the United States’ Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 (CAN-SPAM Act).

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019 2 Scope

2.1 Purpose

The Principles and Best Practices are intended primarily for entities operating in the wireless messaging ecosystem to facilitate innovation and the use of wireless messaging while protecting Consumers from Unwanted Messages. The Principles and Best Practices may also help inform Consumers about wireless messaging services and anyone with an interest in the wireless messaging ecosystem.

These Principles and Best Practices represent an important further step in the wireless industry’s effort to support new uses and business opportunities in wireless messaging services while maintaining protections for Consumers from Unwanted Messages. In particular, these Principles and Best Practices are intended to demonstrate Wireless Providers’ efforts to balance the exchange of messaging traffic for, among other reasons, public interest purposes – including for example political, educational, emergency, and non-profit purposes – while continuing to protect Consumers from Unwanted Messages. By establishing clear parameters and guidelines, these Principles and Best Practices encourage Message Senders to maintain Consumer trust and confidence in Consumer (P2P) services and support the adoption of innovative Non-Consumer (A2P) services.

This version of the Principles and Best Practices replaces the 2017 CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices in order to further clarify expectations among wireless messaging ecosystem stakeholders for identifying Consumer (P2P) and Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging (as defined in Section 3.3) and establish clear guidelines for A2P Messages.

Although the specific technical and operational details required for Service Provider implementation are beyond the scope of this document, the Principles and Best Practices acknowledge that Service Provider implementation will be an ongoing and iterative process that continues to evolve as new use cases arise. These Principles and Best Practices are meant to supplement, and not replace, CTIA’s Common Short Code Monitoring Handbook.

2.2 Wireless Messaging Services

The Principles and Best Practices primarily address wireless messaging services that use 10-digit telephone numbers assigned from the NANP as the unique identifier for the sender and/or recipient(s) of individual or group messages. Generally, wireless messages are exchanged between 10-digit NANP telephone numbers via Wireless Providers’ messaging networks. These messaging services include:

  • Short Message Service (SMS);

  • Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS); and

  • Rich Communications Services (RCS).

    As described in Section 5.5 below, a five- or six-digit number known as a short code can also be used to exchange wireless messages via Wireless Providers’ messaging networks. While these Principles and Best Practices should be interpreted consistent with CTIA’s Common Short Code Monitoring Handbook, Message Senders that use a common short code (CSC) should adhere to the terms of those

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

services as described in the Common Short Code Monitoring Handbook and individual wireless providers’ terms of use.

The messaging ecosystem also includes cloud-based services that require the use of a separate messaging client (e.g., an app) that is distinct from and does not interoperate with Wireless Providers’ messaging networks. These Principles and Best Practices are intended to apply to messaging services that only interoperate between cloud-based platforms and Wireless Providers’ messaging networks using the applicable services, such as SMS, MMS, or RCS.

2.3 Scope, Limitations, & Disclaimer of Legal Guidance or Advice

CTIA’s Principles and Best Practices do not constitute or convey legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from qualified counsel. Use of and access to the Principles and Best Practices or any of the links contained herein do not create an attorney-client relationship with CTIA and the user.

Messaging services may be subject to a number of legal requirements, including for example those established under the TCPA; the CAN-SPAM Act; the Communications Act of 1934, as amended; the Federal Trade Commission Act; and implementing regulations and decisions adopted by the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission.1 Anyone using these Principles and Best Practices should consider obtaining legal and regulatory advice prior to taking any action related to the use of messaging services.

As a set of voluntary best practices, CTIA’s Principles and Best Practices do not impose, prescribe, or require contractual or technical implementation on messaging ecosystem stakeholders, including Service Providers. Due to contractual, technical, or other practical factors, methods of implementing the Principles and Best Practices may vary among stakeholders. Stakeholders may choose to implement modified and additional requirements through their individual guidelines, policies, and contracts.

1 See, e.g., FCC, Petitions for Declaratory Ruling on Regulatory Status of Wireless Messaging Service, Declaratory Ruling, 33 FCC Rcd 12075 (2018); FCC, Text-Enabled Toll Free Numbers, Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 33 FCC Rcd 2438 (2018).

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019 3 WirelessMessagingEcosystem

3.1 Background

In the late 1990s, wireless text messaging evolved to include two-way P2P traffic using 10-digit NANP telephone numbers. Wireless Providers’ messaging systems were not interoperable – a subscriber could only communicate with other subscribers of the same Wireless Provider. In the early 2000s, CTIA established the SMS Interoperability Guidelines, which provided industry standards for SMS interoperation among mobile networks. Today, wireless messaging services have become a convenient and trusted communication tool for Consumers and, increasingly, enterprise users.

In the early 2000s, CTIA and other messaging ecosystem stakeholders developed the short code platform (i.e., five- or six-digit codes) to enable the appropriate use of bulk wireless messages (e.g., wireless messaging campaigns). Wireless Providers’ combination of upfront vetting and ongoing auditing allows high-volume messaging campaigns while minimizing the risk that short codes will be used to distribute Unwanted Messages.

In 2009 and again in 2011, CTIA and messaging ecosystem stakeholders expanded the SMS Interoperability Guidelines to guide how non-mobile networks and cloud-based services could exchange SMS message traffic with mobile wireless networks. In 2014, CTIA and messaging stakeholders also revised the SMS Interoperability Guidelines to account for group messaging and text- enabled toll-free telephone numbers. As noted above, this version of the Principles and Best Practices replaces the 2017 CTIA Messaging Principles and Best Practices, which also replaced the SMS Interoperability Guidelines.

These efforts have shared a common goal of maintaining and enhancing a dynamic, competitive wireless messaging ecosystem while protecting Consumers from Unwanted Messages.

3.2 The Evolving Wireless Messaging Ecosystem

Messaging to 10-digit NANP telephone numbers has enabled Consumers to communicate generally with each other and with organizations in a low-volume, conversational manner. The wireless messaging ecosystem has strived to enable such low-volume, Consumer-oriented communications while simultaneously seeking to inhibit Unwanted Messages from reaching Consumers.

Messaging’s popularity among Consumers is largely attributable to its status as a trusted and convenient wireless communications environment. Messaging is also an increasingly attractive platform to reach Consumers because of its broad adoption by Consumers and Consumers’ ability to retrieve messages when convenient and to store them as desired.

In addition to well-established short code services, the A2P messaging ecosystem today includes high-volume, two-way messaging traffic from 10-digit NANP telephone numbers. However, these advances pose threats to Consumers if Unwanted Messages negatively impact the role of messaging as a trusted and convenient wireless communications medium. To protect Consumers from Unwanted Messages, Service Providers deploy filters and other tools that limit messaging traffic bearing the characteristics of Unwanted Messages. Section 7 of these Principles and Best Practices

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

describes some of the principles that messaging ecosystem stakeholders should utilize to contain Unwanted Messaging traffic.

3.3 Messaging Ecosystem Roles

The messaging ecosystem comprises many stakeholders working together to create, route, deliver, store, retrieve, and consume messages.

3.3.1 Consumer (P2P)
A Consumer is an individual person who subscribes to specific wireless messaging services or messaging applications. Consumers do not include agents of businesses, organizations, or entities that send messages to Consumers.

3.3.2 Non-Consumer (A2P)
A Non-Consumer is a business, organization, or entity that uses messaging to communicate with Consumers. Examples may include, but are not limited to, large-to-small businesses, financial institutions, schools, medical practices, customer service entities, non-profit organizations, and political campaigns.

3.3.3 Wireless Facilities-Based Service Providers (Wireless Providers)
Wireless Providers own and operate radio, telephone, and data networks and offer Consumers a wide variety of wireless communications products and services, including wireless messaging services such as SMS, MMS, and RCS.

3.3.4 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
MVNOs are wireless Service Providers that do not own the network infrastructure over which they provide services. Instead, MVNOs resell network services maintained by one or more Wireless Providers.

3.3.5 Cloud-Based Providers
Cloud-Based Providers enable services like voice and messaging to end-users using over-the-top IP connectivity or through interoperability with wireless carrier-networked services, including wireless messaging. Some Cloud-Based Providers offer an API to access wireless services, while others offer standalone applications.

3.3.6 Inter-Carrier Vendors (ICVs)
Also called Hub Providers, ICVs act as hubs to facilitate interoperability by transporting messaging traffic between multiple Wireless Providers and Cloud-Based Providers.

3.3.7 Connection Aggregators
Connection Aggregators offer a variety of value-added services to enterprise customers, including messaging connectivity with multiple Wireless Providers. Unlike ICVs, Connection Aggregators do not typically support inter-carrier peering traffic.

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

3.3.8 Competitive Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs)
In the messaging ecosystem, CLECs provide 10-digit NANP telephone numbers and traffic routing services to Cloud-Based Providers.

3.3.9 Registrars
Registrars operate databases of telephone numbers and databases of the associated Communications Provider or Providers enabling wireless messaging service to those 10-digit NANP telephone numbers (e.g., CLEC, Wireless Provider, Cloud-Based Provider). The databases establish a record of 10-digit NANP telephone number resources used to support the effective exchange of wireless messages. Registrars’ customers include CLECs, Wireless Providers, ICVs, Cloud-Based Providers, and enterprises.

3.3.10 Network Security Vendors
Network Security Vendors provide solutions that enable Wireless Providers, Cloud-Based Providers, and ICVs to identify Unwanted Messaging traffic. These solutions deliver a variety of network security features, including spam containment and management.

3.3.11 Service Providers
Service Providers refers to any of the parties identified in Section 3.3 that offer messaging services or messaging-related services to Consumers or Non-Consumers using 10-digit NANP telephone numbers or short codes, including Wireless Providers, MVNOs, Cloud-Based Providers, and CLECs.

3.3.12 Message Sender or Sender
A Message Sender or Sender is any Service Provider or Non-Consumer that originates or transmits A2P message traffic.

3.3.13 Unwanted Messages
Unwanted Messages (or Unwanted Messaging) may include unsolicited bulk commercial messages (i.e., spam); “phishing” messages intended to access private or confidential information through deception; other forms of abusive, harmful, malicious, unlawful, or otherwise inappropriate messages; messages that required an opt-in but did not obtain such opt-in (or such opt-in was revoked); and unwanted content noted in Content (Section 5.3).

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019 4 Consumer(P2P)/Non-Consumer(A2P)TrafficClassification

4.1 Consumer (P2P) Messaging

Consumer (P2P) messaging is sent by a Consumer to one or more Consumers and is consistent with typical Consumer operation (i.e., message exchanges are consistent with conversational messaging among Consumers), as described in Section 4.1.1.

To provide greater certainty and consistency across the messaging ecosystem and to distinguish between Consumer (P2P) and Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging, these Principles and Best Practices establish definitions of Consumer (P2P) wireless messaging traffic around the concept of typical Consumer operation.

4.1.1 What is Typical Consumer Operation?
Exhibit I outlines the attributes of typical Consumer operation. Note that these attributes are not mutually exclusive or exhaustive – other characteristics may provide evidence that messages should be classified as Consumer (P2P) messaging. In general, wireless messaging traffic from a 10-digit NANP telephone number that is consistent with all of the attributes of typical Consumer operation described in Exhibit I and meets other best practices in this document should be deliverable as Consumer (P2P) messaging traffic, unless it exhibits characteristics of Unwanted Messaging traffic.

Exhibit I

Throughput Volume

Unique Sender Unique Recipients

Balance

Repetition

Attributes of Typical Consumer Operation

ATTRIBUTE

15 to 60 messages per minute 1,000 per day

1 telephone number assigned to or utilized by a single Consumer

100 distinct recipients/telephone numbers per message

1:1 ratio of outgoing to incoming messages per telephone number with some latitude in either direction

25 Repetitive Messages

NOTES

A Consumer is typically not able to originate or receive more than about one message per second.

Only in unusual cases do Consumers send or receive more than a few hundred messages in a day. A Consumer also cannot typically send or receive messages continuously over a long period of time.

A single Consumer typically originates messages from a single telephone number.

A Consumer typically sends messages to a limited number of recipients (e.g., 10 unique recipients).

Consumer messages are typically conversational. An incoming message typically generates a response from the recipient.

Consumer messages are uniquely originated or chosen at the direction of the Consumer to unique recipients. Typical Consumer behavior is not to send essentially or substantially repetitive messages.

              

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

4.1.2 Consumer (P2P) Messaging Automation
Some Consumers utilize automation to assist in responding to communications. For example, a Consumer may direct their messaging service to auto-reply to a phone call in order to inform the caller about the Consumer’s status (e.g., “I’m busy” or “Driving now, can’t talk”). Such use of automation to assist Consumers in their composition and sending of messages falls within the attributes of typical Consumer operation. In contrast, automation in whole or in part used by Non- Consumers to facilitate messaging is not typical Consumer operation.

4.2 Non-Consumer (A2P) Messaging

Non-Consumer (A2P) message traffic includes, but is not limited to, messaging to and from large-to-small businesses, entities, and organizations. For example, Non-Consumer (A2P) messages may include messages sent to multiple Consumers from businesses or their agents, messages exchanged with customer service response centers, service alerts and notifications (e.g., fraud, airline), and machine-to-machine communications. Non-Consumer (A2P) Message Senders may also include financial service providers, schools, medical practices, customer service entities, non-profit organizations, and political campaigns. Specifically, such Message Senders should adhere to the Non-Consumer (A2P) Best Practices as described in this document (see Section 5).

Further, Non-Consumer (A2P) designation may depend on whether messaging traffic satisfies the attributes of Consumer (P2P) messaging as described in Section 4.1. Non-Consumer (A2P) message traffic includes all messaging traffic that is automated, in whole or in part, but is not described as Consumer (P2P) messaging automation in Section 4.1.2. If Consumer (P2P) messaging traffic is operating in a manner inconsistent with typical Consumer operation, such traffic may be filtered or subject to a Service Provider’s Unwanted Messaging threat mitigation efforts consistent with a Service Provider’s individual messaging service terms and conditions.

Protecting Consumers from Unwanted Messages, particularly from high-volume messaging traffic, is a key consensus-based goal among messaging ecosystem stakeholders. Having clear parameters around Consumer (P2P) traffic will help facilitate the continued deployment of Non-Consumer (A2P) services consistent with protecting networks and Consumers. Individualized arrangements and close collaboration among messaging ecosystem stakeholders creates an environment for the successful deployment of Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging.

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019 5 Non-Consumer (A2P) Best Practices

5.1 Consumer Consent

The messaging ecosystem should operate consistent with relevant laws and regulations, such as the TCPA and associated FCC regulations regarding Consumer consent for communications. Regardless of whether these rules apply and to maintain Consumer confidence in messaging services, Non- Consumer (A2P) Message Senders should:

  • Obtain a Consumer’s consent to receive messages generally;

  • Obtain a Consumer’s express written consent to specifically receive marketing messages;

    and

  • Ensure that Consumers have the ability to revoke consent.

    Consent may vary upon on the type of message content exchanged with a Consumer. The table below provides examples of the types of messaging content and the associated consent that should be expected. The examples below do not constitute or convey legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from qualified counsel. Reference to “business” below is used as an example of a Non-Consumer (A2P) Message Sender.

Exhibit II: Types of Messaging Content & Associated Consent Principles

Conversational

Informational

Promotional

Conversational messaging is a back- and-forth conversation that takes place via text. If a Consumer texts a business first and the business responds quickly with a single message, then it is likely conversational. If the Consumer initiates the conversation and the business simply responds, then no additional permission is expected.

Informational messaging is when a Consumer gives their phone number to a business and asks to be contacted in the future. Appointment reminders, welcome texts, and alerts fall into this category because the first text sent by the business fulfills the Consumer’s request. A Consumer needs to agree to receive texts for a specific informational purpose when they give the business their mobile number.

Promotional messaging is a message sent that contains a sales or marketing promotion. Adding a call-to-action (e.g., a coupon code to an informational text) may place the message in the promotional category. Before a business sends promotional messages, the Consumer should agree in writing to receive promotional texts. Businesses that already ask Consumers to sign forms or submit contact information can add a field to capture the Consumer’s consent.

First message is only sent by a Consumer

Two-way conversation

First message is sent by the Consumer or business

One-way alert or two-way conversation

First message is sent by the business

One-way alert

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

Message responds to a specific request

Message contains information

Message promotes a brand, product, or service

Prompts Consumer to buy something, go somewhere, or otherwise take action

IMPLIED CONSENT

If the Consumer initiates the text message exchange and the business only responds to each Consumer with relevant information, then no verbal or written permission is expected.

EXPRESS CONSENT

The Consumer should give express permission before a business sends them a text message. Consumers may give permission over text, on a form, on a website, or verbally. Consumers may also give written permission.

EXPRESS WRITTEN CONSENT

The Consumer should give express written permission before a business sends them a text message. Consumers may sign a form, check a box online, or otherwise provide consent to receive promotional text messages.

Individual Service Providers may adopt additional Consumer protection measures for Non-Consumer (A2P) Message Senders, which may include, for example, campaign pre-approval, Service Provider vetting, in-market audits, or Unwanted Message filtering practices that are tailored to facilitate the exchange of wanted messaging traffic.

5.1.1 Message Senders Should Provide Clear and Conspicuous Calls-to-Action
A “Call-to-Action” is an invitation to a Consumer to opt-in to a messaging campaign. The Call-to- Action for a single-message program can be simple. The primary purpose of disclosures is to ensure that a Consumer consents to receive a message and understands the nature of the program.

Message Senders should display a clear and conspicuous Call-to-Action with appropriate disclosures to Consumers about the type and purpose of the messaging that Consumers will receive.

A Call-to-Action should ensure that Consumers are aware of: (1) the program or product description; (2) the telephone number(s) or short code(s) from which messaging will originate; (3) the specific identity of the organization or individual being represented in the initial message; (4) clear and conspicuous language about opt-in and any associated fees or charges; and (5) other applicable terms and conditions (e.g., how to opt-out, customer care contact information, and any applicable privacy policy).

Calls-to-Action and subsequent messaging should not contain any deceptive language, and opt-in details should not be obscured in terms and conditions (especially terms related to other services).

5.1.2 Consumer Opt-In
Message Senders should support opt-in mechanisms, and messages should be sent only after the Consumer has opted-in to receive them. Opt-in procedures reduce the likelihood that a Consumer will receive an Unwanted Message. It can also help prevent messages from being sent to a phone number that does not belong to the Consumer who provided that phone number (e.g., a Consumer purposefully or mistakenly provides an incorrect phone number to the Message Sender).

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

Depending upon the circumstances, a Consumer might demonstrate opt-in consent to receive messaging traffic through several mechanisms, including but not limited to:

  • Entering a telephone number through a website;

  • Clicking a button on a mobile webpage;

  • Sending a message from the Consumer’s mobile device that contains an advertising

    keyword;

  • Initiating the text message exchange in which the Message Sender replies to the Consumer

    only with responsive information;

  • Signing up at a point-of-sale (POS) or other Message Sender on-site location; or

  • Opting-in over the phone using interactive voice response (IVR) technology.

    While the Common Short Code Handbook is a separate document specific to the Common Short Code program, the Common Short Code Handbook has additional examples of opt-in consent that may be helpful to Message Senders.

    Message Senders should also document opt-in consent by retaining the following data where applicable:

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• •

• • • • •

5.1.2.1
Message Senders of recurring messaging campaigns should provide Consumers with a confirmation message that clearly informs the Consumer they are enrolled in the recurring message campaign and provides a clear and conspicuous description of how to opt-out.

After the Message Sender has confirmed that a Consumer has opted-in, the Message Sender should send the Consumer an opt-in confirmation message before any additional messaging is sent.

The confirmation message should include: (1) the program name or product description; (2) customer care contact information (e.g., a toll-free number, 10-digit telephone number, or HELP command instructions); (3) how to opt-out; (4) a disclosure that the messages are recurring and the frequency of the messaging; and (5) clear and conspicuous language about any associated fees or charges and how those charges will be billed.

Timestamp of consent acquisition;
Consent acquisition medium (e.g., cell-submit form, physical sign-up form, SMS keyword, etc.);
Capture of experience (e.g., language and action) used to secure consent;
Specific campaign for which the opt-in was provided;
IP address used to grant consent;
Consumer phone number for which consent to receive messaging was granted; and Identity of the individual who consented (name of the individual or other identifier (e.g., online user name, session ID, etc.)).

Confirm Opt-In for Recurring Messages

Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019

5.1.2.2 Apply One Opt-In per Campaign
A Consumer opt-in to receive messages should not be transferable or assignable. A Consumer opt-in should apply only to the campaign(s) and specific Message Sender for which it was intended or obtained.

5.1.3 Consumer Opt-Out
Opt-out mechanisms facilitate Consumer choice to terminate messaging communications, regardless of whether Consumers have consented to receive the message. Message Senders should acknowledge and respect Consumers’ opt-out requests consistent with the following guidelines:

  • Message Senders should ensure that Consumers have the ability to opt-out of receiving Messages at any time;

  • Message Senders should support multiple mechanisms of opt-out, including phone call, email, or text; and

  • Message Senders should acknowledge and honor all Consumer opt-out requests by sending one final opt-out confirmation message per campaign to notify the Consumer that they have opted-out successfully. No further messages should be sent following the confirmation message.

    Message Senders should state in the message how and what words effect an opt-out. Standardized “STOP” wording should be used for opt-out instructions, however opt-out requests with normal language (i.e., stop, end, unsubscribe, cancel, quit, “please opt me out”) should also be read and acted upon by a Message Sender except where a specific word can result in unintentional opt-out. The validity of a Consumer opt-out should not be impacted by any de minimis variances in the Consumer opt-out response, such as capitalization, punctuation, or any letter-case sensitivities.

5.1.4 Renting, Selling, or Sharing Opt-In Lists
Message Senders should not use opt-in lists that have been rented, sold, or shared to send messages. Message Senders should create and vet their own opt-in lists.

5.1.5 Maintain and Update Consumer Information
Message Senders should retain and maintain all opt-in and opt-out requests in their records to ensure that future messages are not attempted (in the case of an opt-out request) and Consumer consent is honored to minimize Unwanted Messages. Message Senders should process telephone deactivation files regularly (e.g., daily) and remove any deactivated telephone numbers from any opt-in lists.

5.2 Privacy and Security

Message Senders should address both privacy and security comprehensively in the design and operation of messaging campaigns.

5.2.1 Maintain and Conspicuously Display a Clear, Easy-to-Understand Privacy Policy Message Senders should maintain and conspicuously display a privacy policy that is easily accessed by the Consumer (e.g., through clearly labeled links) and that clearly describes how the Message Sender may collect, use, and share information from Consumers. All applicable privacy policies should be referenced in and accessible from the initial call-to-action. Message Senders also should

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ensure that their privacy policy is consistent with applicable privacy law and that their treatment of information is consistent with their privacy policy.

5.2.2 Implement Reasonable Physical, Administrative, and Technical Security Controls to Protect and Secure Consumer Information

Message Senders should implement reasonable security measures for messaging campaigns that include technical, physical, and administrative safeguards. Such safeguards should protect Consumer information from unauthorized access, use, and disclosure. Message Senders should conduct regular testing and monitoring to ensure such controls are functioning as intended.

5.2.3 Conduct Regular Security Audits
Message Senders should conduct either a comprehensive self-assessment or third-party risk assessment of privacy and security procedures for messaging campaigns on a regular basis and take appropriate action to address any reasonably foreseeable vulnerabilities or risks.

5.3 Content

5.3.1 Prevention of Unlawful Activities or Deceptive, Fraudulent, Unwanted, or Illicit Content Message Senders should use reasonable efforts to prevent and combat unwanted or unlawful messaging traffic, including spam and unlawful spoofing. Specifically, Message Senders should take affirmative steps and employ tools that can monitor and prevent Unwanted Messages and content, including for example content that: (1) is unlawful, harmful, abusive, malicious, misleading, harassing, excessively violent, obscene/illicit, or defamatory; (2) deceives or intends to deceive (e.g., phishing messages intended to access private or confidential information); (3) invades privacy; (4) causes safety concerns; (5) incites harm, discrimination, or violence; (6) is intended to intimidate; (7) includes malware; (8) threatens Consumers; or (9) does not meet age-gating requirements. Message Senders can also review the Common Short Code Handbook for further examples of Unwanted Message content.

Further, Message Senders should take steps to ensure that marketing content is not misleading and complies with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Truth-In-Advertising rules.

5.3.2 Embedded Website Links
Message Senders should ensure that links to websites embedded within a message do not conceal or obscure the Message Sender’s identity and are not intended to cause harm or deceive Consumers. Where a web address (i.e., Uniform Resource Locator (URL)) shortener is used, Message Senders should use a shortener with a web address and IP address(es) dedicated to the exclusive use of the Message Sender. Web addresses contained in messages as well as any websites to which they redirect should unambiguously identify the website owner (i.e., a person or legally registered business entity) and include contact information, such as a postal mailing address.

5.3.3 Embedded Phone Numbers
Messages should not contain phone numbers that are assigned to or forward to unpublished phone numbers, unless the owner (i.e., a person or legally registered business entity) of such phone numbers is unambiguously indicated in the text message.

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  1. 5.4  Text-Enabling a Telephone Number for Non-Consumer (A2P) Messaging

    An authentication and validation process should be used to verify the Message Senders’ authority to enable Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging for a specific telephone number. Message Senders should only enable Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging with a telephone number that the Message Sender has been assigned by a provider of telecommunications or interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

  2. 5.5  Other Non-Consumer (A2P) Message Best Practices

5.5.1 Shared Telephone Numbers and Short Codes
The use of shared telephone numbers or short codes among multiple persons, businesses, entities, or organizations may require special arrangements between Message Senders and Service Providers. “Sub-aggregating” a single telephone number or short code with multiple Message Senders also may require special arrangements between Message Senders and Service Providers. In instances where shared number use is approved, all Message Senders operating on a shared number should be documented and available, if required through special arrangements between Message Senders and Service Providers.

5.5.2 Snowshoe Messaging
Message Senders should not engage in Snowshoe Messaging, which is a technique used to spread messages across many sending phone numbers or short codes. Service Providers should also take measures to prevent Snowshoe Messaging.

Messaging use cases that require the use of multiple numbers to distribute “similar” or “like” content may require special arrangements between Message Senders and Service Providers.

5.5.3 Grey Routes
Message Senders should not utilize Grey Routes to send messages. A Grey Route is a setting, method or path that is not authorized by Service Providers for Non-Consumer (A2P) Messages. Messages are either Consumer (P2P) or Non-Consumer (A2P) in accordance with these Principles and Best Practices and subject to individual Service Providers’ policies and arrangements.

5.5.4 Common Short Codes
Common short codes are non-NANP addresses of 5 or 6 digits typically used by businesses, entities, or organizations for high-volume communications with Consumers (e.g., airline flight delays, banking account alerts, shipping company delivery notifications, school delays). The short code platform was developed to accommodate higher-volume SMS traffic by providing upfront Consumer protections from Unwanted Messaging traffic and procedures to ensure appropriate use of the platform.

In the United States, the Common Short Code Administration (CSCA) operates the cross-carrier short code registry. The CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook offers best practices and other guidelines for conducting Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging campaigns using short codes.

In Canada, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) administers short code assignments through its txt.ca website. The Canadian Common Short Code Application Guidelines

 

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publication offers best practices and other guidelines for short code campaigns in the Canadian marketplace.

5.5.5 Proxy Numbers
Message Senders might utilize a telephone number as a proxy number that functions as a relay point between possibly large sets of phone numbers and/or frequently changing phone numbers in certain wireless messaging use cases. For example, a driver for a ride-sharing service may need to communicate with a prospective passenger to confirm a pick-up location. The proxy telephone number functions as a conference call bridge telephone number, allowing the driver and passenger to communicate without either party having to reveal their personal telephone number. Another example is a service that allows a user to establish a single telephone number with the ability to relay calls and messages to any of several other telephone numbers held by the user.

A 10-digit NANP telephone number used as a proxy is typically a means to connect two individuals, but proxy numbers are commonly reused in a way that may create volumes of messaging traffic that exceed typical Consumer operation.

Given the use of proxy numbers to facilitate bulk messaging traffic among multiple 10-digit NANP telephone numbers, the proxy number qualifies as Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging traffic and may be subject to additional validation, vetting, and monitoring by Service Providers. Although Consumer group messaging services may use proxy numbers and display some volumetric characteristics of Non-Consumer (A2P) messaging, special consideration can be given for these group messaging services, as discussed in Section 6.1 below.

5.5.6 Text-Enabled Toll-Free Telephone Numbers
Toll-free telephone numbers are a subset of NANP telephone numbers that use the following numbering plan area codes (NPAs): 800, 888, 877, 866, 855, and 844. NPA 833 is tentatively planned for the future. While toll-free numbers have generally supported only voice calling, the messaging ecosystem has evolved to allow use of a toll-free telephone number as the identifier for wireless messaging services.

To uphold the integrity of toll-free telephone numbers, to provide transparency to Responsible Organizations (Resp Orgs) that manage the use of toll-free numbers for voice services, and to protect Consumers from Unwanted Messages from toll-free numbers, Message Senders should operate in accordance with the following guidelines:

5.5.6.1 Authority to Text-Enable Rests with the Toll-Free Voice Subscriber
The toll-free subscriber who is the holder of record of a toll-free number for voice services has the sole authority to control additional services associated with that toll-free number. Only toll-free numbers that are currently reserved or in working status for the benefit of a toll-free number voice subscriber should be enabled for messaging.2

2 See, FCC, Text-Enabled Toll Free Telephone Numbers, Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 33 FCC Rcd 6551 (2018).

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5.5.6.2 Transparency to Resp Orgs
To provide transparency to Resp Orgs and other Service Providers regarding toll-free numbers that are wireless messaging-enabled, any process for provisioning messaging associated with a toll-free number should allow or provide for synchronization with a registry or registries that provide a comprehensive record of text-enabled toll-free numbers and associated toll-free number subscribers. In addition, registries should be operated consistent with the principles in Section 6.3 below.

5.5.6.3 Special Considerations for Shared-Use Toll-Free Telephone Numbers
For the benefit of a toll-free number voice subscriber, message enablement of a toll-free number should account for any shared-use arrangements that are part of the voice service associated with the toll-free number. In the case of shared-use toll-free numbers, the toll-free voice Service Provider should be treated as the toll-free subscriber to uphold the integrity of the toll-free number and protect subscribers of a toll-free voice service that terminates voice telephony traffic to more than one subscriber. Such shared-use arrangements include, but are not limited to, geographic-based and time-of-day-based sharing.

Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019 6 Special Use Cases

  1. 6.1  Group Messaging

    Depending on the specific implementation, group messaging might utilize phone numbers that are typically not assigned to a unique individual, and their characteristics may be inconsistent with Consumer (P2P) messaging. Therefore, depending on the particular characteristics of a service, Service Providers may require special arrangements to facilitate group messaging phone numbers (e.g., similar to Non-Consumer (A2P)), such as the identification of group messaging phone numbers.

    It is recommended that group messaging services:

    • Have strong anti-abuse controls and mechanisms appropriate for systems with potentially large message distribution;

    • Support the ability of any member to opt-out of the group at any time; and

    • Employ mechanisms to prevent recursive group messaging and cyclical messaging involving

      more than one group (e.g., in which one group is a member of another group).

  2. 6.2  Spoofing Telephone Numbers

    Message number spoofing includes the ability of a Message Sender to cause a message to display an originating number for the message that is not assigned to the Message Sender, or when a Message Sender originates a message through a Service Provider other than the Service Provider to which reply messages will be delivered or received.

    Message number spoofing should be avoided and should comply with all applicable laws. Message number spoofing may also require special arrangements between Message Senders and Service Providers.

6.3 Registries

To achieve impartiality with respect to number registration, Registrars should commit to fair dealing on reasonable and non-discriminatory rates, terms, and conditions with messaging ecosystem stakeholders and to operating the registry in good faith.

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Messaging Principles and Best Practices 2019 7 UnwantedMessagingTrafficThreatContainment

  1. 7.1  Core Principles

    It is in the best interests of Consumers and all members of the wireless messaging ecosystem to enable Consumers to freely exchange wireless messages with other Consumers and Message Senders while endeavoring to eliminate threats of Unwanted Messages.

    Wireless messaging is a trusted and convenient communications platform among Consumers and Message Senders. The immediacy, retrieval capabilities, storage capabilities, and high open rates associated with wireless messaging services make wireless messaging an ideal medium for all sorts of communications – including relaying urgent information to Consumers (e.g., fraud alerts or flight changes). This high trust and open rate is associated with the spam-free environment of messaging.

    Unwanted Messaging traffic or reduction in reliable delivery diminishes Consumer trust in the wireless messaging ecosystem. It is vital that wireless messaging ecosystem stakeholders work together to keep the relatively pristine wireless messaging environment free of Unwanted Messages while taking steps to support the exchange of wanted wireless messages among Consumers and Message Senders.

    The following core principles help ensure that Consumers are protected from Unwanted Messages:

    • All Service Providers should use reasonable efforts to prevent Unwanted Messages from being sent by or to Consumers;

    • All Service Providers may filter or block Unwanted Messages before they reach Consumers;

    • To the extent practical and consistent with Service Providers’ Unwanted Message prevention

      and mitigation methods, Service Providers may notify the Message Sender sending

      Unwanted Messages when Service Providers block Unwanted Messages;

    • Service Providers should adopt Unwanted Messaging traffic practices that protect

      Consumers in a manner that facilitates the exchange of wanted wireless messaging traffic;

      and

    • Where appropriate, wireless ecosystem members should collaborate to maintain Consumer

      trust and confidence in wireless messaging services.

  2. 7.2  Unwanted Messaging Traffic Containment Best Practices 7.2.1 Consumer Tools to Mitigate Unwanted Messaging Traffic

7.2.1.1 Consumer Tools for Blocking or Filtering
Consumers may choose to block Unwanted Messaging traffic. Service Providers may provide tools for Consumers to manage the messages from specific telephone numbers they receive, filter, or block, including from those sending Unwanted Messages.

7.2.1.2 Reporting Unwanted Messaging Traffic
Consumers should be able to report Unwanted Messages to their Service Provider. Service Providers may establish and maintain a system to receive complaints identifying Unwanted Messages (e.g., 7726 (SPAM) reporting systems).

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7.2.2 Communication Among Service Providers
Service Providers may communicate as appropriate to help mitigate Unwanted Messaging issues, but such communications need to be consistent with Service Providers’ Unwanted Message prevention and mitigation systems, policies, and processes.

7.2.3 Blocking Unwanted Messages and Senders
Service Providers should adopt Unwanted Messaging traffic practices that protect Consumers in a manner that facilitates the exchange of wanted wireless messaging traffic. Service Providers may block or filter message traffic to protect Consumers, their networks, and the messaging ecosystem from Unwanted Messages. To the extent practical and consistent with Service Providers’ Unwanted Message prevention and mitigation methods, Service Providers may notify the Message Sender sending Unwanted Messages when Service Providers block Unwanted Messages.

7.2.4 Suspending and Disconnecting Unwanted Messaging Traffic
Service Providers may suspend the exchange of messaging traffic with or disconnect another Service Provider when, in their discretion, such action is appropriate to stop the flow of Unwanted Messages. Notice of any such suspension might, depending on the circumstances, be provided to an impacted Service Provider through appropriate operational or business channels.

7.2.5 Transparency of Traffic
To protect the wireless messaging ecosystem from repeat offenders sending Unwanted Messages, Service Providers may consider assigning a unique identifier to and/or using other processes and tools for Message Senders.

7.2.6 Mitigating Unwanted Message Issues
Message Senders and the Service Provider to which they submit messages should take reasonable and prompt actions to resolve Unwanted Messaging issues.

7.2.7 Network Operations Center
Service Providers should maintain a Network Operations Center (NOC) in service.

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