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California regulators say 'jk' to proposed texting tax

The state's public utilities commission blames scrapping of proposal on a recent FCC ruling

LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

State regulators in California have abandoned a plan to tax text messaging as a way to boost revenue, citing a recent ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that limited states' authority over regulating information services.

What are the details?

A recent report from the California Public Utilities Commission proposed requiring wireless carriers to charge a flat fee to customers who utilize text messaging, as a way to raise funds for programs aimed at providing phone services to needy citizens. But the CPUC scrapped the idea on Friday, blaming a recent rule change implemented by the FCC.

On Wednesday, the FCC classified text messaging as an "information service," rather than a "telecommunications service," effectively rolling regulation of the practice under the purview of the Federal Telecommunications Act — which limits states' authority in overseeing communications.

CPUC announced Friday that it would nix its planned Jan. 10, 2019, vote on the proposal to tax text messages.

Assigned Commissioner Carla J. Peterman stepped down from her post the next day.

According to CNN, proponents of the FCC's new rule argue it will allow carriers the authority to crack down on unwanted spam messages, while critics warn it could lead to carriers censoring the messages of customers.

Anything else?

The Silicon Valley Business Journal reported that CPUC proposed its text messaging tax plan to offset the decline in revenue the state receives from voice calling. As more consumers opt for text messaging over calls, regulators are scrambling to find a way to pay its universal service program that supports "schools, libraries, health care providers and low-income, rural, insular, or residents in high-cost areas."

One last thing…
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