ACA Submits Industry Considerations on TCPA in Letter for House Subcommittee’s FCC Oversight and Budget Hearing

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel testify on fiscal year 2020 budget request and agency’s future priorities.

4/4/2019 10:00 AM

ACA Submits Industry Considerations on TCPA in Letter for House Subcommittee’s FCC Oversight and Budget Hearing

ACA International called upon the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Affairs Subcommittee to discuss the importance of legitimate business calls and the impact of Telephone Consumer Protection Act requirements on these calls during a budget and oversight hearing with the Federal Communications Commission April 3.

“ACA members are consumers, and like many consumers, greatly dislike illegal robocalls. These calls that are originated by bad actors, often overseas, as noted by Kevin Williamson in a recent National Review article, are extremely different than informational calls being made for legitimate business purposes such as debt collection calls,” ACA International CEO Mark Neeb said in a letter to Subcommittee Chairman U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ind., and Ranking Member U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., in advance of the hearing.

“Consumers often need the information that ACA members provide them to maintain their financial health, and open communication can lead to the most favorable outcome for them,” Neeb continued. “We appreciate that the House Financial Services Committee’s recent recognition of this concept during the federal government shutdown in a letter that acknowledged, ‘…once negative information is reported to consumer reporting agencies, affected employees are likely to see a reduction in their credit scores.’ Communication with consumers is pertinent to have these critical discussions,” Neeb said.

As a result of the clear importance of open communication between businesses and consumers in the methods they prefer and the impact of the TCPA requirements, ACA International is urging the House subcommittee to continue to discuss these issues with the FCC, including Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who testified at the hearing.

Specifically, ACA would like the subcommittee to consider these points relevant to those concerns as it conducts its oversight of the FCC:

  • 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.

“It is clearly time for the FCC to address the questions sent back to it by the D.C. Circuit, and posed by other regulators, and act on the important TCPA questions before it,” Neeb concluded in his letter. “Thousands of legitimate callers and businesses need clarity on requirements for communicating with consumers about much needed information.”

FCC Budget Request

In conjunction with the April 3 hearing, Chairman Pai presented the FCC's Fiscal Year 2020 budget request of slightly more than $335 million to the subcommittee, which is $3.95 million less than what the commission received in the 2019 budget.

However, in his testimony, Pai notes that the subcommittee approved a budget of $6 million more than the general request for fiscal year 2019.

“The FCC greatly appreciates your decision to return our funding to $339,000,000 in FY19. This means a great deal to a small agency and aids 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 her testimony, Rosenworcel proposed three efforts to stop robocalls, including requiring the use of call authentication technology, SHAKEN/STIR; availability of free tools for consumer to “avoid robocalls” provided by major phone carriers;” and created a new division in its Enforcement Bureau to focus strictly on robocalls.

He added funds requested for fiscal year 2020 will support priorities of the FCC for the next year, including broadband deployment, closing the digital divide, improving 911 calling, and more.

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