RobocallsConsumersUnionRachelRecently, the FCC issued a ruling regarding the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order. In the ruling, the FCC confirmed that “Internet-to-phone text messages require consumer consent” and that “text messages are ‘calls’ subject to the TCPA.”

Additionally, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler added that he saw “no legal reason carriers shouldn’t offer their customers popular robocall-blocking solutions.” Complaints about violations of TCPA are the FCC’s most numerous complaint category, with more than 215,000 grievances filed last year.

But now, media companies and advertisers are worried about the new restrictions will affect their annoying advertisement campaigns going forward. So much so that ACA International, an association of credit and collection professionals, immediately filed a suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit seeking judicial review of the FCC’s TCPA ruling.

According to certain groups, the “extent” of the FCC ruling went too far and will now affect “online service providers, entertainment companies, sports teams and social media networks have already been hit with lawsuits by consumers who claim they improperly received robocalls or other prohibited contacts.”

The FCC decision was also decided along party lines. FCC Republican members were outraged at the notion of consumers having the ability to stop the constant calls that were previously allowed because consumers had consented to it. Nevermind that the consent can be found in the middle of a small print, 400 page “Terms of Service” agreement.

  • According to FCC Commission member Michael O’Rielly, this decision is a “farce” that “penalizes businesses and institutions acting in good faith to reach their customers using modern technologies.”
  • According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, “the order is likely to leave the American consumer, not to mention American enterprise, worse off.” Pai even went off on the fact that this ruling meant that all devices were included in the TCPA’s reach. Pai even made the point that this plan would include “each and every smartphone, tablet, VoIP phone, calling app, texting app — pretty much any calling device or software-enabled feature.”

I share Pai’s disgust. Consumers have no interest in being harassed on their cellphone. But on their tablets and other devices/programs? Sure. That is acceptable. That makes sense.

FCCAnnouncementGraphicAnalysts have also expressed concern that these new restrictions could make them a target for ambulance-chasing lawyers, who sue companies for perceived violations based on consumers’ do-not-call preferences.

The idea that ISP’s or entertainment companies are mad at anyone for possibly pushing up the price of a product…is laughable. Setting aside the fact that the cost of this situation is going up because of these same companies pushing the limit of intrusive advertising, do I need to even bring up the fact that American consumers’ monthly entertainment bills are some of the most expensive in the world?

Essentially, advertisers are mad that they may soon be fined significantly more for harassing consumers with unwanted and unhelpful contact.