From the Web: “Fact Checking John Oliver’s Robocall Bit”

TCPAWorld expert and industry attorney Eric Troutman dissects the late-night host’s piece on the topic as it gains increasing attention from industry advocates, regulators and legislators.

3/14/2019 2:00 PM

From the Web: “Fact Checking John Oliver’s Robocall Bit”

Eric Troutman, attorney at law at Squire Patton Boggs LLP, and creator of the TCPAWorld site, recently delved into the facts of John Oliver’s segment on robocalls on Last Week Tonight … asking if the piece—while entertaining—was in fact accurate.

Troutman writes, “The bit was hilarious—although the language was certainly blush-inducing for those of us that don’t frequently watch late night television—and Oliver is obviously immensely talented. The bit ended with a giant foam finger pushing a giant red button to launch robocalls at the FCC encouraging it to keep Wheeler-era TCPA regulations in place. It was comedy gold and actually quite a convincing piece of advocacy. But were his various statements regarding robocalls and the federal regulations governing automated calls accurate?”

In the article, Troutman ranks several of Oliver’s assertions about robocalls in terms of accuracy and how they apply to legitimate businesses making legitimate, legal calls to inform consumers.

“… Given how serious the issue of TCPA reform is, reining in potential misinformation—no matter how benign—is pretty important stuff,” Troutman writes.

In analysis of one assertion by Oliver, that “Robocall Volume Exploded After A Court Decision Overturned the FCC’s Rules Expanding the TCPA,” Troutman writes:

“This was the worst part of the bit.

Oliver states that robocalls exploded after ACA Int’l set aside the FCC’s expansion of the TCPA last year. He even throws up a blurry little graph to prove it … But wait a second. Take a close look at that graph.

What you’ll see is that robocalls actually exploded AFTER the 2015 Omnibus Ruling expanding the TCPA and BEFORE the court set aside those rulings.

So whereas Oliver states that we had a “solution” to the robocall problem and then the courts ruined it he is just flat wrong. The FCC’s massive expansion of the TCPA did absolutely nothing to stop robocalls. The number of “robocalls” literally quadrupled following the FCC ruling that Oliver touts as a solution. 

The reason is simple–the TCPA does not prevent robocalls. You can expand the statute all you want and the bad guys will keep on coming. That’s because the TCPA is only–or mostly–enforced against legitimate businesses, who are not causing the problem.”

Read Troutman’s complete analysis of the show for more examples and graphs depicting data on robocalls on insideARM.

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New Jersey Congressman Introduces Robocall Enforcement Enhancement Act; ACA Responds to Conflated Press Report on Illegal Robocalls

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