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Monthly TCPA Digest Part I – TCPA: Regulatory

Commission Releases and Actions

  • On November 16, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at combatting illegal robocalls.

    • The newly-adopted rules in the Report and Order grant voice service providers the option of blocking robocalls that appear to be from telephone numbers that do not or cannot make outgoing calls. Specifically, rules allow providers to block calls (i) from numbers used only for inbound calls, when the subscriber to the number authorizes it to be blocked; (ii) purportedly originating from invalid numbers under the North American Numbering Plan; or (iii) purportedly originating from numbers that are not allocated by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator or the Pooling Administrator to any provider, or that are allocated but currently unused. Providers do not need consumer consent to block these types of calls, and they are not required to count these blocked calls when calculating their call completion rates on FCC Form 480. The rules do not allow providers to block emergency calls. In addition, recognizing the possibility that legitimate calls could be unintentionally blocked, the FCC encouraged providers to implement a simple mechanism for subscribers to challenge a blocked number. The FCC further clarified that Section 222 of the Communications Act and its implementing rules allow carriers to use, disclose, or permit access to customer proprietary network information for the purposes of robocall traceback, sharing a subscriber’s request to block an inbound-only number, and protecting carriers and users from fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful behavior.

    • In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC seeks comment on (i) potential mechanisms and requirements to ensure that erroneously blocked calls can be unblocked quickly and without undue harm to callers and consumers; and (ii) ways to measure the effectiveness of the FCC’s and industry’s robocalling efforts, such as through a reporting obligation. Comments and reply comments are due January 23, 2018, and February 22, 2018, respectively.

    • The FCC also directed the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, in consultation with the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, to prepare a report within a year on the state of robocalling and efforts to combat robocalling in the United States.

  • On November 17, 2017, the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Public Notice seeking comment on a request for clarification or, in the alternative, declaratory ruling filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (“FHFA”). The FHFA asks that the FCC clarify that calls made by mortgage holders to borrowers in disaster-affected areas, where the called individual previously provided the phone number, do not violate the TCPA’s consent requirements. The FHFA petition also suggests that such calls could constitute calls made for emergency purposes under the TCPA, arguing that “mortgage servicers for FHFA’s regulated entities need to contact borrowers immediately where they are impacted by declared disasters – regardless of express consent – to provide important information about mortgage assistance.” Comments and reply comments are due December 1, 2017, and December 8, 2018, respectively.

©1994-2022 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume VII, Number 354
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About this Author

The frictionless flow of information is a defining feature of today’s information economy. Your organization’s ability to transfer customer data, employee files, financial records, and other information around the country or the globe quickly and cheaply has opened a world of new opportunities. Privacy laws vary by jurisdiction and are interpreted unpredictably, and even if your business is extremely conscientious, it can make a false step as it captures, uses, transfers, and discloses personal information. The consequences can be serious and even devastating — heavy...

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