VOIP and IP messaging provider Plivo has sent out an email to customers warning that Rogers has made a policy change that will “directly impact SMS delivery” to Rogers subscribers in Canada.
In the email, which surfaced on Reddit, the company states that Rogers intends to block all application-to-person (A2P) SMS traffic sent to their subscribers beginning November 15th, 2017 — though the carrier subsequently stated this is not its intention.
“Rogers stance impacts all IP messaging service providers, including Plivo,” read the email. “We’re working closely with industry partners at this moment to present a unified opposition to Rogers’ stance.”
The letter drew some alarm from users of IP messaging services like Burner, including Twitter user @SadistHailey, who notes that such a chance would be a major issue for people who need to protect their identity, such as sex workers, journalists and activists.
It's a rumor among the local sex worker community and has vulnerable ppl afraid. It's also talked about on this reddit thread, and a person claiming to be a Rogers employee basically confirms it. https://t.co/08sP5b2zFw
— Hailey Heartless (@SadistHailey) November 8, 2017
Rogers’ support account replied to @SadistHailey with a series of tweets that seemed to confirm the changes, but also hurried to assuage fears.
“We’re working on making sure the SMS traffic originating from non-wireless numbers won’t impact entities using this type of platform. We’ll provide further information on this when it becomes available,” stated the company’s support account.
Rogers subsequently confirmed that it is looking to make some changes to its process around A2P SMS traffic in the aims of preventing unauthorized access and spam, but that it is not planning to block all A2P messages and wants to ensure legitimate organizations are still able to contact their clients.
Waterloo-based IP messaging service TextNow told MobileSyrup it is not impacted directly by Rogers’ changes.
Plivo, meanwhile, has tweeted that it is currently “working on identifying how the messages will be classified as A2P vs P2P.”
Currently, we are working on identifying how will the messages be classified as A2P vs P2P. 1/2
— Plivo (@plivo) November 7, 2017
For those who don’t know, VOIP, or voice-over-internet-protocol, refers to the delivery of voice communications over the internet rather than the switch telephone network. SMS can also be delivered through the internet rather than the telephone network, and those internet SMS services are referred to as IP messaging.
IP messaging services are often used as inexpensive — or even free — ways to gain access to a new phone number, which, as identified above is extremely useful for those whose work might make them vulnerable.
Update 09/11/17: Article updated with information from Rogers and TextNow.