News & Press: Legal Updates

Proposed FCC Phone Call Regs Neglect Industry Perspective

Tuesday, June 2, 2015  
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FCC Chairman’s Effort to Increase Phone Call Regulations
Neglects Industry Perspective

On Wednesday of last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal to address more than 20 petitions about consumer protection relating to telephone calls and associated technology that are pending before the FCC. The announcement came in a post on his blog and an accompanying fact sheet that outlined existing rules and his proposed changes.

Chairman Wheeler has circulated his proposed declaratory rulings to his fellow FCC Commissioners for consideration, and hopes to bring the matters to a vote on June 18th.

In CASRO’s opinion, the proposal is profoundly consumer-protection driven and fails to balance industry interests. While the proposal is not seen as a direct blow to market research, it does threaten to dash industry hopes of making cellphone research easier.

Chairman Wheeler proposes five points to broadly address the issues raised by the various petitions before the FCC:

1. Consumers should be able to revoke consent to receive commercial calls or text by any reasonable means.

2. Service providers should be allowed and encouraged to make "do-not-disturb” technology available to consumers. This technology is capable of blocking "robocalls.”

3. Commercial calls to telephone numbers that have been re-assigned to new customers must be stopped after one call.

4. The definition of auto-dialer, as presented in the TCPA, should be broadened to encompass any technology with the potential to dial random or sequential numbers.

5. Exceptions to restrictions on calls and texts without consent should be limited to urgent circumstances.

Of the proposed solutions, the tightened definition of auto-dialer raises the greatest concern for our industry. It is important to note that, as it relates to market research, this definitional change only affects calls made to wireless phones.

An expansion of the already outdated definition of an auto-dialer fails to embrace the fact that modern technology is critical to the continued existence of legitimate telephone research and that technological innovation can in fact further consumer protection.

CASRO is drafting a letter to the FCC which provides to its commissioners the industry perspective strikingly absent from the information provided to them by Chairman Wheeler. Members are urged to contact CASRO to join this effort.

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