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FCC scolds Lyft for forcing users to opt in to automated texts

FCC scolds Lyft for forcing users to opt in to automated texts

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The FCC has recently been publicizing its crusade against robo-calls, and it looks like the latest company under fire from the Commission is ride-hailing startup Lyft. In a stern order sent today, the FCC accuses Lyft of unlawfully requiring users to opt-in to automated calls and text messages, only to make opting out near-impossible.

Lyft hasn't been hit with a fine yet

The order says that Lyft's terms of service require users to "expressly consent" to receiving automated text messages and calls, despite FCC regulations banning companies from making automated calls a requirement of service. The FCC also accuses Lyft of making instructions for opting out difficult to find. When they do, according to the Commission, opting out of texts also makes users opt out of security confirmation texts.

"Accordingly, the evidence shows that Lyft's opt-out representations are illusory in nature, and Lyft effectively requires all consumers to agree to receive marketing text messages and calls on their mobile phones in order to use services," the order reads.

On Sunday, a Lyft spokesperson told The Verge, "to be as transparent as possible with consumers, we have updated our Terms of Service to include detailed information for users who wish to opt-out of promotional or marketing communications, but still wish to receive other text messages from Lyft."

Lyft is only the most recent company to get caught up in the FCC's crackdown on telemarketing systems. Last month, the FCC levied a nearly $3 million fine against a travel marketer for making unsolicited calls, and today the Commission similarly chastised First National Bank today for requiring customers to sign up for automated messages before using online banking or Apple Pay. Neither First National nor Lyft was fined by the FCC for the automated programs, but said suggested they would be if they don't change their ways.

Update September 14th, 10:05AM ET: Updated to include comment from Lyft spokesperson.