Seal of the United States Federal Communications Commission. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One question that I get asked a lot has to do with sending email to wireless domains. So, I’ll lay out the answer here for all the world to see:
No unsolicited messages may be sent to a recipient on a mobile domain for any reason, period. Here’s the general rule from the FCC’s Order mandated by CAN-SPAM:
“The CAN-SPAM Act directs the Commission to issue regulations to protect consumers from ‘unwanted mobile service commercial messages.’ Thus, we adopt a general prohibition on sending commercial messages to any address referencing an Internet domain name associated with wireless subscriber messaging services” FCC Order).
This has, in one recent FCC decision, been expanded to include customers of the mobile phone company itself, so it’s pretty clear that the FCC is intent on enforcing this in all instances.
The one exception to this is if the recipient has given “affirmative consent”. On this point the FCC says:
“44. We note here that in the event any complaint is filed, the burden of proof rests squarely on the sender, whether authorization has been obtained in written or in oral form. We do so to avoid the likelihood that any businesses will try to fabricate authorization. Given the potential costs and inconvenience to subscribers to receive such MSCMs, it is important that such messages be sent only to those wireless devices belonging to receptive subscribers. We strongly suggest that senders take steps promptly to document that they received such authorization. Recognizing the potential for fraud by both a person signing up someone else to receive MSCMs and by businesses fabricating authorization, we recommend that the business confirm the electronic mail address with a confirmatory notice sent to the recipient requesting a reply” (FCC Order at page 18, emphasis added).
If you really want to send commercial email to wireless domains, then you must make certain that you have firm, documented, verifiable, and informed consent before sending any form of message.
So, what should best practices be?
You should make certain that you regularly download the list of wireless domains maintained by the FCC and wash addresses in those domains from your general lists.
You should segment your wireless domain addresses into their own list.
You should make certain that you implement double opt-in for addresses on the wireless segment, even if you don’t use double opt-in in general.
Then it’s more of a matter of following all of the other best practices for sending commercial email in general.
United States Federal Trade Commission (2007, March 7), In the Matter of Rules and Regulations Implementing the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 and Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, CG Docket No. 04-53 and CG Docket No. 02-278. Retrieved from http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-26A1.pdf.
United States Federal Trade Commission (2004, August 12), In the Matter of Rules and Regulations Implementing the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 and Rules and Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, CG Docket No. 04-53 and CG Docket No. 02-278. Retrieved from http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-04-194A1.pdf.