Advocating for ACA: Meetings in Washington, D.C. Continue Discussions on TCPA Reform and Call Blocking and Labeling
ACA meets with Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy as regulators focus on modernization of the law after ACA Int’l v. FCC, et. al decision.
9/21/2018 2:00 PM
ACA International CEO Mark Neeb and Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey engaged with several regulatory leaders from the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy on behalf of ACA members this month.
In meetings with the FCC Consumer and Government Affairs Office and staff from Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s office, ACA International discussed the impact of recent Telephone Consumer Protection Act litigation and lack of clarity for compliance on ACA members, as well as general concerns that the law is outdated and has been interpreted in ways that do not conform with statutory intent.
ACA also continues to urge the FCC to review the impact of call blocking and labeling technologies on legitimate businesses communicating with consumers. Specifically, ACA outlined how mislabeled calls or fake busy signals can harm consumers when they unknowingly may be dissuaded from receiving information that they need about their financial situation or a variety of other scenarios.
ACA International is continuing its advocacy efforts through meetings to encourage regulators and policymakers to develop protocols and/or a regulatory framework that would require call blocking and labeling companies to create a system to differentiate between legal informational calls and illegal robocallers.
In discussing concerns with the TCPA with the FCC, ACA staff focused on support for enforcement actions against bad actors making illegal robocalls that impact legitimate callers in the accounts receivable management industry trying to reach consumers.
Other topics included:
- Differentiation between collection calls and unwanted telemarketing calls and spam calls.
- The FCC’s Public Notice Concerning TCPA based on the outcome of ACA Int’l v. FCC, et. al.
- The FCC’s Request for Information for Reassigned Numbers Database.
ACA also highlighted to the FCC that multiple regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, the SBA Office of Advocacy, and U.S. Department of the Treasury, have recently recognized that there are significant benefits to consumers when they can communicate with accounts receivable management industry professionals.
The FCC also recently responded to members of the U.S. House of Representatives who are seeking clarification of the TCPA after the decision in ACA Int’l v. FCC, et. al. In letters to U.S. Reps. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., David McKinley, R-W. Va., and Ken Buck, R-Colo. Chairman Ajit Pai outlined the importance of modernizing the TCPA.
Pai sent his response earlier this month, noting his agreement with the representatives’ request.
“In your letter, you urge the commission to take quick action to clarify important issues under the TCPA. I agree that, in light of the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in ACA International v. FCC—which struck down much of the agency’s 2015 TCPA Declaratory Ruling and Order—it is time for the commission to establish robust consumer protections in line with federal law. As I predicted in my dissent, the last administration’s order has left both the American customer and American enterprise worse off. This cannot possibly be what Congress intended,” Pai wrote in the letter.
He issued similar responses to senators this summer after several Republican members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation sent letters to Pai urging him to take quick action to clarify important issues under the TCPA as the FCC reviews the law, ACA previously reported.
Meeting with Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy
ACA also continued talks about the impact of the TCPA and call blocking and labeling on the industry in a meeting with the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s Assistant Chief Counsel Jamie Belcore Saloom.
The association provided the results from a recent survey about call blocking and labeling showing a major impact on the accounts receivable management industry and statistics about the large percentage of small businesses in the accounts receivable management industry, including company size and demographics.
“When unclear requirements for communicating with consumers limits the ability of legal and highly regulated businesses from operating efficiently it is critical for the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy to consider what can be done to alleviate these burdens that harm small businesses and the thousands of people they employ,” Dempsey said. “We appreciate their willingness to listen to the concerns of ACA members about the TCPA and faulty call blocking and labeling.”
Following is a recap of other ACA International advocacy efforts with regulators and policymakers:
- As attention to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act from regulators and legislators increases, ACA International is asking Congress to consider the impact the lack of clarity in the law has on businesses as well as consumers they need to communicate with. In a letter to Committee Chairman U.S. Sens. John Thune, R-S.D., and Ranking Member Bill Nelson, D-Fla., ACA International CEO Mark Neeb asked the committee to consider several points as it conducts its oversight of the FCC. In particular, oversight of the Federal Communications Commission by Congress is a key opportunity to ensure businesses have clear guidelines to remain compliant while consumers have the communication they need. It is imperative to have clarity on the TCPA and compliance as Congress considers legislation such as the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act that references the law and current definitions of technology such as an autodialer.
- As multiple regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and U.S. Department of the Treasury, have recently recognized that there are significant benefits to consumers when they can communicate with accounts receivable management industry professionals, it is important that going forward, the FCC consider a regulatory regime and framework to enable callers to mitigate mislabeling or erroneous blocking. Given this, ACA International is encouraged by the Aug. 10 request for comment from the FCC Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau that “seeks to refresh the record on advanced methods to target and eliminate unlawful robocalls.”
- ACA International filed comments with the FCC in support of its efforts to combat illegal and fraudulent calls while reiterating the need for clear interpretations of the TCPA and a concise, thoughtful plan to develop a reassigned numbers database in June.
- ACA International is working to improve clarity for TCPA compliance in ongoing advocacy efforts and is encouraged the FCC also recognizes the problems with the status quo for consumers and legitimate businesses, as outlined in comments on the FCC’s Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) Advanced Methods to Target and Eliminate Unlawful Robocalls. In the NPRM, the FCC is assessing the impact of the decision in ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission, et al. when it comes to safe harbor from liability under the TCPA, especially if a reassigned numbers database is created.
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