General Context on 10DLC and Opt-ins
Many clients have been asking whether 10DLC should change their approach to who they text, particularly whether organizations now need prior express permission (aka opt-in) for peer-to-peer texts sent via ThruText. This article provides our best current understanding of how to approach that question.
- First, we'll start with a disclaimer. GetThru has never monitored texting universes for opt-ins, and we have no plans to do so. Clients choose who they want to text through our software, and we send those texts on their behalf.
- Second, we believe that any enforcement of the new 10DLC rules will be complaint-based. It is our understanding that carriers have no way to monitor 10DLC texts for opt-in. But they can and will notice when a texting campaign results in many complaints or "unwanted" messages. So the most important thing GetThru clients can do is to avoid texting behavior that is likely to generate complaints. That means not texting people who are highly unlikely to be receptive to your message and not over-texting your supporters.
- Third, it's important to remember that 10DLC does not change the widely stated best practices from the carriers regarding opt-ins. CTIA, the industry association for telecom carriers, has been encouraging opt-ins since July 2019. So have Twilio, Bandwidth, and other intermediaries who facilitate P2P texting through their APIs. But, in spite of those guidelines, many organizations have chosen to send texts without opt-ins because they believe (as do we) that it is 100% legal to do so under the TCPA and because it's an essential tool for reaching key audiences.
Implications of November 1, 2021 Deadline
The only thing that is different from an opt-in perspective as of November 1, 2021, is that there is a threat of fines from T-Mobile. Here's what we know about these fines:
- T-Mobile is the only carrier proposing these fines. Neither AT&T nor Verizon have announced any fines related to 10DLC traffic.
- These proposed T-Mobile fines are brand new and have never been levied, so we don't know how serious T-Mobile is about actually applying them.
- One of the fines -- the Content Violation fine -- appears relevant to the question of opt-ins because one of the content categories that could trigger this fine is "messaging that meets the Severity 0 violation threshold per the CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook." That Severity 0 threshold includes "Messaging sent without a valid opt-in." We don't know why T-Mobile uses guidelines established for Short Codes to govern 10DLC traffic.
- We also lack information about enforcement. T-Mobile has indicated that the Content Violation fine would only be levied after a third offense. This suggests that organizations should have warning before any fines are levied because they will first have to receive notice of multiple offenses that do not trigger a fine.
- Numerous advocacy organizations, party committees, elected officials, and vendors (including GetThru) are actively pushing back on these proposed fines, which we think are a massive overreach. T-Mobile knows that if they begin taking steps towards instituting the fines, they will experience considerable opposition.
Update as of May 18, 2022
As 10DLC continues to unroll, we have made updates to ThruText to remain compliant and gathered some observations:
- As of February 14, 2022, we have required clients to send all messages with a use case.
- Since setting the requirement, we have sent millions of messages. We have seen no decrease in deliverability, and there are no fines that we are aware of.
- We have had a very small number (less than 5) of requests from carriers for proof of opt-in, which we have passed on to our customers.
- We have had one request from one of our SMS partners for a client to add opt-out language to their messages (e.g., "reply stop to opt out") We believe that adding opt-out language is best practice and will result in better treatment of your messages.
10DLC is a confusing and ever-changing landscape. We'll keep this article updated with any new developments. And if you want to talk it over further, please contact our client success team by emailing email@example.com!