FCC Chairman Looking To Strengthen TCPA, Rule On Backlogged Petitions

Many businesses have petitioned the FCC in recent years asking for clarifications, and in some cases relief from the onerous or ambiguous portions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  However, the FCC seems poised to strengthen rather than relax the federal law that has become a gold mine for class-action lawsuits. This week, the FCC released a “Fact Sheet” that Chairman Tom Wheeler says will “protect Americans from unwanted robocalls, spam text messages, and telemarketing calls."

Among the most significant of Chairman Wheeler proposals are ones that would (1) allow telephone carriers to offer robocall-blocking technologies to consumers; (2) tighten the TCPA’s definition of “autodialer” to include any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers, not just ones that actually do so; (3) provide consumers with the right to revoke their consent to receive robocalls and texts in any reasonable way and at any time. The Fact Sheet also promised to address the problem of recycled telephone numbers for which a prior subscriber consented to receive autodialed calls that are unwanted by the new subscriber of the number.

Oddly, Chairman Wheeler addressed the backlog of business petitions in blog post that said, “I am proposing that the Commission rule on more than 20 pending petitions related to consumer protection.” Do we really need an FCC chairman to propose that the FCC do its job? In any event, the proposed rulings will be voted on as a single item by the full FCC on June 18, 2015.

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