ACA Advances Industry Considerations on TCPA during Senate Subcommittee’s FCC and FTC Oversight and Budget Hearing
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons testify on fiscal year 2020 budget request and agency’s future priorities.
5/9/2019 2:00 PM
As the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees review the Federal Communications Commission’s and Federal Trade Commission’s budgets, ACA International encourages lawmakers to weigh the importance of addressing outdated and onerous policies as part of their oversight activities.
“Multiple regulatory agencies have recognized there are significant benefits to consumers when they can communicate with credit and collection professionals through the channels that the consumers prefer,” ACA International CEO Mark Neeb said in a letter to Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman John Kennedy, R-La., and Ranking Member Chris Coons, D-Del.
The subcommittee met and heard testimony from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FTC Chairman Joseph Simons during a hearing “Review of the FY2020 Budget Request for the FCC & FTC” on May 7.
“The departments and agencies funded by this subcommittee are responsible for promoting our nation’s economy, supporting small businesses and ensuring an efficient and fair judicial system, among many other important government priorities,” Kennedy said in his opening statement.
Following a similar House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government hearing in April to review the FCC budget, ACA International is urging the Senate subcommittee and Congress to continue to discuss the clear importance of open communication between businesses and consumers in the methods they prefer and the impact of the TCPA requirements with the FCC and FTC.
Specifically, ACA would like the subcommittee to consider these points relevant to those concerns as it conducts its oversight of the FCC and FTC:
- TCPA interpretations remain onerous and create unclear compliance expectations that leave businesses vulnerable to frivolous class action litigation. The FCC must act to clarify its interpretations of the TCPA as directed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (D.C. Circuit) after the decision in ACA Int’l v. FCC;
- New call blocking and labeling technologies are unfairly impeding calls from credit and collection professionals and other legitimate businesses, in some instances in deceptive ways, or ways that engage in slanderous labeling of legitimate calls; and
- Several other regulators including the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy; and the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB or Bureau) have recognized the importance of legitimate businesses having the ability to communicate with consumers.
“Thousands of legitimate callers and businesses need clarity on requirements for communicating with consumers about much needed information,” Neeb concluded in his letter.
Media reports on the Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing also say Kennedy questioned Pai and Simons about agencies’ enforcement of illegal robocalls and focused on the FTC’s vision for a data privacy bill.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce met on May 8 for another hearing with the FTC “Oversight of the Federal Trade Commission: Strengthening Protections for Americans’ Privacy and Data Security.”
ACA International submitted a letter on federal data privacy standards in advance of the hearing and will provide coverage in ACA Daily.
FCC and FTC Budget Requests
In conjunction with the hearing, Chairman Pai presented the FCC’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request of slightly more than $335 million to the subcommittee. Pai notes in his testimony that the subcommittee approved a budget of $6 million more than the general request for fiscal year 2019.
“This amount means a great deal to a small agency and aids in our efforts to expand the deployment of rural broadband, improve public safety, foster technological innovation, protect consumers, and modernize our information technology,” Pai said in his testimony.
The FTC presented a budget request of $312.3 million and 1,140 full-time equivalent employees
“The increase of $2.6 million over the FY2019 appropriation is for expert witnesses and IT modernization,” Simons said in a news release.
“As the nation’s primary consumer protection agency, the FTC has a broad mandate to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the marketplace, and to educate consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities,” his testimony notes.
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