Removing Barriers Blog

House Committee Holds Second Hearing on Modernizing TCPA
Posted September 22, 2016 by Chandler Schuette

At today's House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing, legislators and witnesses expressed many of our same concerns regarding the FCC's recent Order under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA.) The clear consensus of the committee and witnesses was that the 90's-era TCPA is in desperate need of modernization in the cell-phone age. 

Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chair of the subcommittee, called the TCPA a “a prime example of an outdated law that lags behind modern communications technology and consumer preferences," and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), opened his comments by stating that modernizing the TCPA was one of his top priorities as a congressman. 

We wrote to the committee before the hearing in a letter and in written testimonyoutlining a number of concerns and calling for Congress to act on what we believe is an overreach by the FCC. 

In his comments, Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio) echoed two of our main concerns with the FCC order: that business still need to have clear avenues to communicate with their customers, and that the FCC’s definition of “autodialer” is problematic and leads to compliance confusion. 

We had raised this point in our letter, saying that without clarifications to the definition because oral or written consent is required if using an autodialer to contact a consumer’s mobile phone. 

Witnesses Michelle Turano, vice president of government affairs for WellCare; and Shaun Mock, CFO of Snapping Shoals Electric Membership Corporation, an electric cooperative, also echoed our concerns by providing numerous examples of how consumers often need to be contacted by certain institutions with important information. 

We've also raised this point in numerous letters on the TCPA, by stressing that credit unions need to be able to contact members without fear of lawsuits. The second witness also mentioned that the strict liability in TCPA doesn’t leave room for contacting customers with changed phone numbers, and some members of his business depended on these phone calls and were angry when they were stopped. He also stressed the need for immunity from TCPA litigation, especially relating to changed numbers. 

We've also pointed to recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau statements, where bureau staff have urged institutions to take advantage of technological advancements in communications to ensure consumers have the information they need.