Today, the Federal Communications Commission approved an Order to make it easier for consumers to block “robocalls” and texts on a party line vote of 3-2. The Order responds to numerous petitions and complaints the FCC has received in the last several years to update the FCC’s rules under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1990. The FCC shares jurisdiction with the Federal Trade Commission for maintaining the “Do Not Call” list and protecting consumers from abusive telemarketing practices.
The following quote may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior VP of Public Knowledge:
“Today’s FCC action will update the rules protecting people from incessant ‘robocalls,’ to the relief of millions of Americans. It also demonstrates how the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission work together to compliment one another – a point extremely relevant now that broadband is a Title II telecommunications service.
“The FCC makes it clear today that consumers can employ technological means to block unwanted calls. It closes several loopholes exploited by unscrupulous telemarketers and bill collectors to harass consumers and make our rare quiet time at home subject to endless interruptions. The FCC’s action also makes it possible for consumers to easily withdraw their consent to be called if unscrupulous companies abuse their relationship with consumers.
“The robocalling industry and the Republican dissenters resort to the tired talking point that effective consumer protection is a ‘bonanza for trial lawyers.’ This is absurd. Companies that respect consumers will have nothing to fear; only businesses based on consumer harassment will suffer. If anything, the ability to use technology to block unwanted calls and the ease with which consumers can now withdraw their consent will reduce the number of complaints.
“TCPA and consumer protection used to be bipartisan issues. It is unfortunate that Commissioners Pai and O’Reilly have decided to usher in a new era of hyper-partisanship at the expense of the American people.
“Finally, today’s action illustrates how the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission work together to protect consumers. The FCC and the FTC have shared joint jurisdiction over robocalls and telemarketing for more than 20 years, with each agency using its unique jurisdiction and statutory mandate to protect the public from abuses. This long-standing collaboration between the agencies protecting consumers on the telephone rebuts those who argue that the FCC’s classification of broadband as Title II somehow displaces the FTC’s vital role in protecting consumers online.”
You can view the FCC’s fact sheet on the Order here.
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.