T-Mobile Announces Fines and TOS Updates

T-Mobile announces terms of service (TOS) updates and traffic violation fines beginning January 1, 2024. Tmobile will be implementing a new set of non-compliance fines for messaging traffic violations on all mobile channels that transverse their network (SMS and MMS Short Codes, Toll-Free Numbers and 10DLC).

Those new fines will start January 1st, 2024.

T-Mobile will issue fines for content that they deem objectionable. While some of the updates are acceptable to most (for example, phishing, spamming and the like), this development has sparked concerns among many users and has raised questions about the extent of control that T-Mobile now has over the content it’s users consume.

New T-Mobile Fines and Tiers:

Beginning on January 1, 2024, T-Mobile will start imposing fines on users who commit perceived violations on their bandwidth.

The non-compliance fine(s) will be assessed per the following tier system:

  • Tier 1: $2000 USD
    For phishing, smishing, social engineering.
  • Tier 2: $1000 USD
    For illegal content (content Must be legal in all 50 states, as well as federally)
  • Tier 3: $500 USD
    For all other violations (including, but not limited to S.H.A.F.T.).

T-mobile Definitions:

Social Engineering

Social Engineering means all techniques aimed at getting a target to reveal specific information or performing a specific action for illegitimate reasons.

Examples include but not limited to phishing, smishing, and pretexting purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords or credit card numbers.

Illegal Content

Illegal Content refers to any content that is not legal in all 50 states and federally. This list is outlined in the T-Mobile Code of Conduct section 5.1 “Unlawful, Unapproved or Illicit Content” (however not limited to) includes Cannabis, Marijuana, CBD, Prescriptions, Adult Solicitation.

5.1 Unlawful, Unapproved, or Illicit Content
No messaging programs can run on the T-Mobile network that may promote unlawful, unapproved, or illicit content, including but not limited to:

  • SPAM
  • Fraudulent or misleading messages
  • Depictions or endorsements of violence
  • Inappropriate content
  • Profanity or hate speech
  • Endorsement of illegal drugs

Programs must operate according to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations. In addition, the content must be legal across all 50 states.

All content must be appropriate for the intended audience. Additional legal and ethical obligations apply when marketing to children under age 13, and such programs might be subject to additional review by T-Mobile.

All Other Violations

Refers to Subsection 5.7 of the T-Mobile Code of Conduct, which outlines, but is not limited to “Age Gating”

5.7 Age Gating
T-Mobile may, at its discretion and at any time, suspend, terminate, or not Approve any Messaging Program it feels does not promote a legal, age-appropriate, or positive customer experience. All content must adhere to all applicable laws and support a functioning age gate when associated with but not limited to Sex, Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco, and/or any other age-restricted content that must comply with legal regulations. Nonacceptable age gating function includes but is not limited to Yes or No responses. The age-gate mechanism should include the date of birth verification during the consent opt-in of the consumer.

Note that if T-Mobile determines that a Violation continues and is excessive during the Term of the Agreement, T-Mobile reserves the right to permanently suspend brand, campaigns, and or Company’s access to the T-Mobile Network or the Company Connection.


S.H.A.F.T. is an acronym that stands for Sex, Hate, Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco. It outlines the categories of text messages specifically regulated due to moral and legal issues and is monitored and enforced by the Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA) and the mobile carriers.

Some users wonder who determines what is and isn’t “hateful”? Some users wonder if political text messages will now be censored going into 2024?

Who Is Effected?

At the time of writing, T-Mobile seems to be imposing these rules to all commercial, non-consumer, Application-to-Person messaging (A2P) products (SMS or MMS Short Code, Toll-Free, and 10DLC) that traverse T-Mobile’s network.

A Non-Consumer is a business, organization, or entity that uses messaging to communicate with Consumers. Examples include but are not limited to, large-to-small businesses, financial institutions, schools, medical practices, customer service entities, non-profit organizations, and political campaigns.

Non-Consumers also include agents, representatives, or any other individuals acting on behalf of Non-Consumers or sending messages over a non-consumer platform.

T-Mobile’s move to quietly update its TOS, including fines for content violations, has sparked concerns about the erosion of freedom of expression and the potential for censorship.

Users worry that this policy change grants phone service providers excessive control over the content they consume and share. As the debate unfolds, it remains to be seen how users, regulatory bodies, and the legal system will respond to this new development.

The coming months will be crucial in determining the future of internet freedom and the balance between user rights and corporate control.

What Do You Need To Do?

Understand that at this time, this is very real. Ensure that all traffic is compliant. Discuss this with your employees and staff immediately.

We recommend that you review your internal best practices and ensure that they are up-to-date and meet messaging requirements.

Understand Section 5, of T-Mobile’s Code of Conduct regarding “Prohibited Campaign Content.” The most up to date version of this document that we could find is dated November 2020 and is version 2.2. Contact us if you need help with your business communications and features.

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