By Melanie Ramey
Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice seeking comment on a range of issues relevant to its interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), including how the FCC should interpret what constitutes an “automatic telephone dialing system” in the wake of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to vacate the agency’s prior interpretation of that term.
This same issue was the focus of a petition for declaratory ruling filed earlier this month by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and a number of other industry organizations.
The Public Notice seeks comment on a range of other TCPA issues, some of which also were addressed by the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision. These include how calls to reassigned mobile telephone numbers should be treated under the TCPA and the ways in which a party may revoke his or her prior express consent to receive automated or prerecorded calls under the statute.
In addition, the Public Notice seeks renewed comment on issues still pending in the FCC’s TCPA docket, such as the extent to which federal, state and local government contractors are “persons” under the TCPA and thus subject to its restrictions. If not, the Public Notice seeks comment on ways that conclusion can best be reconciled with amendments to the 2015 Budget Act, which excluded from certain TCPA prohibitions calls made pursuant to the collection of a debt owed to the United States. The Public Notice also seeks renewed comment on a previously-made claim that calls mistakenly placed to reassigned mobile telephone numbers for debt collection purposes should not be subject to TCPA liability because there is no incentive for such calls to be placed for any other purpose.
Comments on any or all of these issues are due on June 13, 2018, and reply comments are due on June 28, 2018.