Michael O’Rielly, who was made a commissioner at the FCC just four months ago, has wasted little time before confronting one of the largest problems facing companies today – compliance with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
In a blog published March 25, Commissioner O’Rielly says:
“The TCPA is supposed to protect consumers from unwanted commercial robocalls, texts, or faxes. The FCC must hold bad actors accountable when they violate this law. But the FCC should also follow through on the pending TCPA petitions to make sure that good actors and innovators are not needlessly subjected to enforcement actions or lawsuits, which could discourage them from offering new consumer-friendly communications services.”
The FCC is presently considering “several dozen petitions” asking them to declare or clarify that a particular service or method of communicating would comply with the TCPA. O’Reilly believes “tackling this backlog in a comprehensive manner will help restore certainty and reduce the need to file additional petitions.”
The prospect of near-term action by the FCC is extremely welcome news. According to ACA International (who has filed one of the petitions in question), TCPA related class action lawsuits have risen by a “staggering 592 percent in the last few years” and individual TCPA lawsuits filed against creditors and debt collectors rose to 1,862 cases in 2013 and had already reached 208 cases in January 2014.
As a result, many companies have scaled back on their customer outreach, especially to customers with only mobile phones, despite evidence that consumers value proactive communication about issues that can negatively impact their lives.
While the legal risks remain until the FCC takes action, at least one commissioner thinks the time to do so has come.
You can read Commissioner O’Rielly’s entire blog post here: http://www.fcc.gov/blog/tcpa-it-time-provide-clarity