Wednesday, June 17, 2015

FCC Commissioner Speaks Out Opposing Wheeler TCPA Clarifications

The FCC is scheduled to vote tomorrow on a proposal to resolve more than 20 of the petitions pending before it concerning the TCPA.  I posted an entry last month which sets forth in detail Chairman Wheeler's proposal.  It is anticipated that the proposal will pass.  However, it appears there will be opposition to the proposal within the FCC. 

In a candid post on The Daily Caller, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai left little doubt where he will stand tomorrow, particularly on two issues - reassigned number calls and the definition of an automated dialing systems. Pai had particularly harsh words for the plaintiff's bar, stating "trial lawyers have twisted the law’s words to target useful communications between legitimate businesses and their customers. And thanks to the $500 penalty, the TCPA has become their ATM." 

Pai voiced his opposition to Wheeler's proposal noting that the "Commission will likely vote to open the floodgates for even more TCPA litigation. One part of the plan would impose a strict liability standard on businesses that call a telephone number that’s been reassigned from a customer to someone else. Even if the business has no reason to know that it’s calling a wrong number, it’ll be liable. With 37 million phone numbers reassigned each year and no reliable numbers database for businesses to consult, this is an invitation for more abusive lawsuits."  Pai further anticipates that the FCC definition of an automated dialing system will "sweep into this definition everything from smartphones to Internet-to-text message apps." 

Pai concludes that "[t]here is simply no reason for the government to help the trial bar update its business model for the digital age. Instead, the FCC should curb the gotcha lawsuits and focus on what the TCPA was designed to do — stopping illegal telemarketers." 

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