This is due to a change in classification, where before text messages were classified as “telecommunications services” which were then subject to carrier regulation under the Communications Act. However according to the FCC, the new classification puts SMS and MMS under “information services”, which in turn will empower carriers to more effectively combat spam text messages.
According to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, “The FCC shouldn’t make it easier for spammers and scammers to bombard consumers with unwanted texts. And we shouldn’t allow unwanted messages to plague wireless messaging services in the same way that unwanted robocalls flood voice services.”
It sounds like a good thing, but not everyone feels the same. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted her dissent and said, “That means your carrier now has the legal right to block your text messages and censor the very content of your messages themselves.” Of course whether or not they will actually do that remains to be seen, but it might be too early to say.