Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly spoke on Thursday, May 4th, before ACA International's Washington Insights Conference, a group that describes itself as the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Commissioner O’Rielly’s comments focused on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
O’Rielly said that he believed that “prior decisions by the Federal Communications Commission and courts throughout the country have expanded the boundaries of TCPA far beyond what I believe Congress intended” and this expansion of the TCPA has led to the increased TCPA litigation we have witnessed over the past few years. O’Rielly pledged that with the Republicans now taking control of the FCC, “we have the chance to undo the misguided and harmful TCPA decisions of the past that exposed legitimate companies to massive legal liability without actually protecting consumers.” O’Rielly indicated that he hopes a number of the decisions made by the FCC in its 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order will be overturned when the D.C. Circuit rules on the pending appeal, and that, in either case, he will push the Commission to “revisit the issue to write rules that are truly clear and rational.”
The Commissioner suggested other areas for potential action under a Republican-led FCC, including:
- Revisiting the industry-specific exceptions, such as those for nonprofits, government debt collectors, health care providers, and utilities, to ensure that those exceptions provide clear guidance and are broad enough to provide the industries with certainty.
- Changing the definition of autodialer so that legitimate companies are not precluded from using technologies that work to further their legitimate business interests.
- Promoting the creation of standardized means for consumers to opt out and allowing companies to rely on those standardized methods, rather than promoting inefficiencies.
- Promoting certain call-blocking technologies to help consumers avoid calls from bad actors.
Finally, because Commissioner O’Rielly expects that any effort to change the rules will “be met with hysterical claims about the harms that will come to consumers,” he issued a call for “legitimate companies and associations across all parts of the economy to work together to show the steps they are already taking to avoid unwanted calls and highlight the specific benefits of being able to contact consumers.” O’Rielly expressed frustration that a more coordinated approach has not occurred previously, concluding that “the failure to do so helped produce the mess you face today.”
The full text of Commissioner O’Rielly’s speech is available here.