The Federal Communications Commission announced a fact sheet proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler to respond to some two dozen pending petitions regarding various aspects of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
The FCC states that the proposed actions would be “one of the most significant FCC consumer protection actions since it established the Do-Not-Call Registry with the FTC in 2003.”
The Commission will vote on the proposal at its Open Meeting on June 18, 2015.
A copy of the fact sheet is available at: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0527/DOC-333676A1.pdf
According to the fact sheet, and among other things, the following issues would be addressed in the proposed actions:
1. Revocation of Consent:
The FCC Chairman states “[c]onsumers would have the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and robotexts in any reasonable way at any time.” This would affect calls to landline home service, and to wireless/cell numbers.
2. “Do Not Disturb” or “Call Blocking” Technology
The FCC Chairman states “[c]arriers could offer robocall-blocking technologies to consumers. It would give the go-ahead for carriers to implement market-based solutions that consumers could use to stop unwanted robocalls.” This would affect calls to landline home service, and to wireless/cell numbers.
3. Calls to Re-Assigned Numbers, the “One Free Pass” Rule.
The FCC Chairman proposes to make clear that “[c]onsumers who inherit a phone number would not be subject to a barrage of unwanted robocalls to which a previous subscriber of the number consented. If a phone number has been reassigned, callers must stop calling the number after one call.” This would affect calls to landline home service, and to wireless/cell numbers.
4. Definition of “Automatic Telephone Dialing System”
The FCC Chairman proposes to double-down on the FCC’s position that “[a]n ‘autodialer’ is any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers. The rulings would ensure robocallers cannot skirt consumer consent requirements through changes in calling technology design or by calling from a list of numbers.” This would affect calls to wireless/cell numbers.
5. Limited Exceptions for Urgent Circumstances
The FCC Chairman proposes to allow “[f]ree calls or texts to, for example, alert consumers to possible fraud on their bank accounts or remind them of important medication refills would be allowed. The proposal is very clear about what such messages can be and what they cannot be (i.e., no marketing or debt collection). In addition, consumers would have the ability to opt out of even these permitted calls and texts.” This would affect calls to wireless/cell numbers.
Ralph T. Wutscher
Maurice Wutscher LLP
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Chicago, Illinois 60602
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Admitted to practice law in Illinois
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