By: Matthew N. Foree
Ten members of Congress have recently submitted correspondence to the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) urging the FCC to revise the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). They frame the issue at stake as “a significant hindrance to public and private business practices across our great nation due to outdated federal law.”
These individuals recognize that the TCPA was enacted to address a concern over telemarketing calls and practices found to be an invasion of privacy. Nevertheless, they realize the problem that the law is “being unfairly applied with great unintended consequences to calls that the Federal Communications Commission has deemed informational, not solicitation or telemarketing.” The members of Congress also realize that technology has changed and that the TCPA needs to change with it, requesting that the FCC apply a common sense approach to the TCPA, “particularly when organizations are contacting individual consumers for informational purposes, and are not contacting consumers for telemarketing purposes.” As they note, these entities may contact consumers on mobile devices if they make calls manually. They also note that the FCC must recognize that 96 percent of adults are mobile subscribers and more than half of households are either entirely or mostly wireless.
The members of Congress state that, if the TCPA is not revised, federal and state government bodies cannot use technology in an efficient manner to contact millions of consumers for informational purposes, nor will private sector businesses be able to reach consumers on issues such as foreclosure or litigation. They also recognize that the TCPA has turned into a “booming practice for opportunistic attorneys to take advantage of ambiguous rules and profit personally by suing businesses and overburdening the courts while providing only nominal relief to their clients.” In sum, these members of Congress are seeking “common-sense reforms to facilitate the delivery of time-sensitive consumer information to mobile devices while continuing to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.” They make a compelling argument when they conclude that “[t]he world has changed significantly since 1991 and it’s time for the FCC to clarify and modernize its TCPA rules to reflect the realities of today.” Only time will tell if these long-awaited revisions will be enacted.