The FCC has proposed that "over-the-top" internet messaging services such as Apple's iMessage should let users send emergency texts to 911. The move comes after last week's announcement that all four major carriers in the US had signed up to the "text-to-911" program; with traditional SMS an outdated technology for many, however, the FCC now says that it wants to keep pace with how text messaging evolves. No mention was made of specific messaging apps, but the FCC is initially targeting those that send text messages to phone numbers — the organization's primary concern is that users are "able to reach 911 by the same texting methods they use every day."
We'd certainly expect iMessage to be at the forefront of the FCC's mind, due to the way it integrates with the SMS interface on iPhones. Facebook Messenger has also tried to muscle in on SMS territory of late by letting users sign up with phone numbers in certain regions. With many users often using services that bypass phone numbers altogether, however, it's unclear exactly how far the FCC's proposal would reach.