TCPA Regulatory Update — FCC Partners with More States, Sends More Cease & Desist Letters, Clarifies Safe Harbors, and Responds to Congressional Queries

FCC Adds States to Its Partnerships to End Robocalling

As we reported final month, the Federal Communications Fee has been partnering with varied states to enhance the federal-state collaboration in robocalling investigations. In April, the Fee’s Enforcement Bureau signed memoranda of understanding with Alaska, California, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and the state of Washington. With the addition of those states, a majority of U.S. states have now joined with the Fee in robocalling investigation partnerships. In saying these new partnerships, Chairwoman Rosenworcel remarked that “[the new partnerships] show[] that we are united when it comes to fighting robocalls—urban, rural, north, south, east, and west.” The Chairwoman additionally took the chance to invite the remaining states that haven’t but established a partnership to accomplish that, saying “I invite every state and U.S. territory to join this effort and establish information sharing and cooperation structures with the FCC so we can work together to investigate and put an end to spoofing and robocall scam campaigns.” These partnerships assist states struggle unlawful robocalling by offering the Fee’s robocalling enforcement experience and assets to assist state investigations, whereas serving to the Fee keep away from duplicating investigatory efforts when states are already pursuing an unlawful robocaller.

FCC Enforcement Bureau Sends More Cease-and-Desist Letters, Cashes in on Federal-State Partnerships

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau despatched cease-and-desist letters to Airespring, Inc., Hello Hello Miami, LLC, and thinQ Technologies, Inc. (collectively “the Companies”), which the Bureau discovered have been facilitating illegal robocall visitors on their networks. The letters warned the Corporations that they have been allegedly transmitting unlawful robocalls and if they didn’t examine and take steps to “effectively mitigate illegal traffic” inside 48 hours, then all different voice service suppliers could be permitted to block visitors from the Corporations. Additional, the letters required the Corporations to inform the Fee and the USTelecom-led Trade Traceback Consortium of the steps they’d take to “implement effective measures” to forestall clients from utilizing their networks to transmit unlawful calls sooner or later. The Corporations have been required to reply to the letters by April 5, 2022, with failure to well timed notify the Enforcement Bureau of the steps the Corporations took to cease the unlawful visitors being handled because the equal of failing to put efficient measures in place in any respect. The Enforcement Bureau has taken no additional motion in opposition to the Corporations as of the date of this publication. This implies that, as with the businesses that acquired earlier letters, these Corporations complied with the Bureau’s directives

The Enforcement Bureau’s investigations as soon as once more relied on data collected by the Trade Traceback Consortium. Nevertheless, notably within the case of thinQ Applied sciences, Inc., the North Carolina Division of Justice carried out its personal investigation and recognized thinQ because the supply of unlawful robocall visitors. North Carolina shared the findings of its investigation with the Enforcement Bureau, which bolstered the Bureau’s investigation into thinQ. The Bureau was ready to money in on this state-federal partnership just one month after North Carolina entered into its data sharing settlement with the Fee to assist fight unlawful robocalling.

With these letters, the Fee has now despatched practically 20 cease-and-desist letters to corporations suspected of allowing illegal visitors on their networks.

FCC Clarifies Safe Harbor and Tweaks Pricing in the Reassigned Numbers Database

The Fee’s Shopper and Governmental Affairs Bureau launched a Public Notice clarifying that callers should still be eligible for a secure harbor from legal responsibility below the Phone Shopper Safety Act (“TCPA”) when a licensed third-party agent searches the Reassigned Numbers Database (“RND”) earlier than making calls on behalf of the caller. As we beforehand defined, the RND permits callers to decide whether or not a phone quantity has been reassigned from a shopper that has given prior categorical consent to calls or textual content message to a brand new buyer that has not. Utilizing the database is a vital step in each lowering the variety of total spam calls but additionally for safeguarding good-faith callers from TCPA legal responsibility the place the RND returns incorrect details about a quantity. Whereas the 2018 RND Order established that callers who question the RND and obtain incorrect data from the database have a secure harbor from TCPA legal responsibility for these calls, neither the Order nor the Fee’s guidelines have been clear {that a} caller should still be eligible for secure harbor when a licensed agent makes the question. The Fee additionally clarified that callers in search of to benefit from the secure harbor whereas utilizing a licensed agent to carry out the question have the burden of proof to present that the agent searched the latest model of the RND and that it returned the wrong data. The caller should even be ready to show that it approved the agent to act on its behalf.

As well as to steerage relating to approved brokers, the Shopper and Governmental Affairs Bureau launched a Public Notice modifying the pricing scheme from the RND to make it extra inexpensive for callers to use as a useful resource. The new pricing structure seeks to give customers extra subscription choices whereas reducing costs for many customers. The Fee additionally added reductions for callers’ brokers that subscribe to the very best use subscription tiers. The brand new construction supplies the largest reductions in value for the very best subscription packages by lowering the associated fee per question for the biggest subscription packages.

FCC Chair Responds to Congressional Questions About Robocall Enforcement

In October, Consultant Vern Buchanan (FL-16) despatched a letter to then Performing Chairwoman Rosenworcel in search of details about the Fee’s efforts to fight rip-off calls and shield weak customers. In his letter he requested how the Fee intends to pressure non-compliant telecommunications trade members into compliance. In March, Chairwoman Rosenworcel responded to Rep. Buchanan’s letter. Entrance and middle within the response have been the actions taken by the Fee’s Enforcement Bureau previously 12 months, which features a $45 million dollar fine in opposition to a big robocalling operation — the biggest ever below the TCPA — proposed simply this previous February in addition to a variety of cease-and-desist letters the Enforcement Bureau has despatched to corporations it discovered have been facilitating unlawful robocalling. Chairwoman Rosenworcel additionally highlighted the work of the Shopper and Governmental Affairs Bureau to educate customers about widespread robocalling scams and the instruments they want to establish and keep away from falling for them.

The Chairwoman additionally famous that the Fee has fulfilled its statutory duties below the Phone Robocall Abuse Felony Enforcement and Deterrence (“TRACED”) Act — most prominently, requiring suppliers to implement STIR/SHAKEN or develop and make use of their very own robocall mitigation plan. In noting these necessities the Chairwoman defined that because of the Fee’s robocall mitigation efforts, together with mandating the usage of STIR/SHAKEN, there have been considerably fewer illegal robocalls in January 2022 than within the months earlier than the STIR/SHAKEN mandate turned efficient.

Lastly, Chairwoman Rosenworcel reiterated that she has proposed a variety of extra measures which can be presently pending earlier than the Fee. One current instance the Chair pointed to was, as we’ve previously reported, a proposal to require {that a} caller get hold of consent earlier than delivering a “ringless voicemail.” The Fee has to date not acted on this proposal.

The Chairwoman concluded by stating areas the place the Fee’s authority is just too restricted and suggesting that Congress give the company the authority it wants to catch unhealthy actors. Particularly, the Chairwoman pointed to the Supreme Courtroom’s resolution in Facebook v. Duguid, which narrowed the definition of an “auto-dialer.” As well as, the Chairwoman urged Congress to give the Fee the facility to seize illegal robocallers’ property and go to court docket immediately to gather charges from these unhealthy actors.

Source link