Rules against robocalls shouldn't be loosened

Thirty billion robocalls were made to American consumers ...

Posted: Nov 11, 2018 1:48 AM
Updated: Nov 11, 2018 1:48 AM

Thirty billion robocalls were made to American consumers in 2017, according to YouMail, a robocall-blocking service. And while robocalls, made with an automated dialer or using a prerecorded or artificial voice, torment Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, even on this issue, Washington leadership has found a way to divide along party lines.

The division is not over whether robocalls generally are a nuisance that should be addressed, but over which robocalls should be stopped. The robocalling industry is pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deregulate all automated robocalls made with a human agent by interpreting the definition for "automated telephone dialing systems" (autodialers) in a way that would not cover any automated systems being used by the callers.

Federal Communications Commission

Government organizations - US

US federal departments and agencies

US government independent agencies

Banking, finance and investments

Banking, lending and credit services

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Consumer electronics

Consumer products

Debt collection

Electronics

Mobile and cellular telephones

Mobile technology

Technology

Businesses using robocalls for debt collection and telemarketing are trying to capitalize on a recent DC Circuit Court decision that tasked the FCC with revisiting some of the rules that govern robocalls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA requires that callers have consent when they use autodialers to call cell phones, and that consumers can revoke that consent to stop the robocalls.

However, partisan lines have been drawn over whether some well-known companies, including many creditors and debt collectors, should be exempted from the TCPA's restrictions altogether. This would mean that consumers would no longer have the ability to stop calls from callers collecting debts -- regardless of how many times a day or a week the calls are made or whether they are even reaching the correct party. While some Democratic senators have opposed the loosening of regulations that would allow consumers to be inundated by these unwanted calls, Republicans have not taken action to stand up for consumers' rights.

Congress passed the TCPA in 1991 to address a surge in unwanted robocalls and faxes. The FCC has interpreted the TCPA to bar unwanted text messages as well as autodialed calls to cell phones without the recipient's consent.

But as the availability of software and equipment to make autodialed calls to cell phones rapidly expands, lobbyists and lawyers for the robocallers are in Washington, working to persuade the FCC to narrow the autodialer definition so that virtually none of the technologies currently used to make unwanted robocalls or send texts would be covered by these protections.

Giving in to the robocallers' demands would inevitably increase the number of robocalls made daily, likely by a factor of thousands. There would simply be no restrictions whatsoever on debt collection calls, survey calls, political calls or non-profits calling to solicit money, so long as those calls are made using live agents or technology that does not fit into the proposed, narrow autodialer definition. While the Do Not Call Registry would still apply, that rule protects us from only telemarketing calls, which are less than half of all robocalls.

The robocalling industry also hopes to persuade the FCC to strip consumers of their right to revoke consent. Frequently, consumers unknowingly consent to receive robocalls from companies they do business with in the fine print of loan documents, service contracts and consumer product terms and conditions.

Once consumers recognize they've given a business permission to robocall them, usually after receiving a number of unsolicited robocalls, they now have the legal right to inform the business that its calls are unwanted and demand that the calls stop. As things stand, the robocallers have to comply, but with the stroke of a pen, the FCC may allow them to ignore consumers' wishes.

Lobbyists for the businesses making robocalls don't appear confident in their own assertion that their calls are wanted communications between a business and its customers. If they were, they would support consumers' right to revoke consent -- assuming that their customers would not exercise that right.

More than a dozen Democratic senators have urged the FCC to maintain strong rules to limit unwanted robocalls and allow consumers to determine which calls are wanted. But in a true display of Washington dysfunction, that letter is void of any Republican signatures. Worse, some Republican senators wrote to the FCC urging it to side with the robocallers at the expense of consumers.

If Americans are to have confidence in the democratic process, lawmakers must find common ground on issues that directly impact their constituents. An issue as wide-reaching and universally despised as robocalls provides just the opportunity. Congress and the FCC should honor the will of their constituents and reject efforts by big businesses and robocalling industry lobbyists to flood our cell phones with even more unwanted robocalls.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 71015

Reported Deaths: 3013
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15322723
Lake7343274
Elkhart471380
Allen3725160
St. Joseph330179
Hamilton2610104
Vanderburgh184213
Hendricks1814106
Cass17669
Johnson1694118
Porter123839
Clark114846
Tippecanoe114611
Madison89565
LaPorte86930
Howard85565
Kosciusko82712
Marshall75822
Bartholomew75447
Floyd74045
Monroe70830
Delaware68052
Dubois65812
Boone65346
Noble64529
Hancock63838
Jackson5625
LaGrange55410
Warrick55330
Vigo54310
Shelby53527
Grant52029
Dearborn47928
Morgan45134
Clinton4043
Henry36919
White35110
Montgomery34621
Wayne34610
Lawrence33727
Decatur32432
Harrison30923
Putnam2778
Miami2642
Daviess25920
Scott25710
Greene24134
Franklin23413
DeKalb2234
Jasper2192
Jennings21512
Gibson2084
Steuben2043
Ripley1947
Perry17912
Fayette1777
Starke1747
Orange16624
Posey1650
Wabash1613
Fulton1592
Carroll1572
Wells1542
Jefferson1532
Whitley1476
Knox1420
Tipton1296
Huntington1213
Washington1211
Spencer1193
Newton11410
Randolph1144
Clay1045
Sullivan911
Adams892
Jay840
Owen831
Pulaski751
Brown711
Rush714
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford592
Ohio574
Pike520
Parke501
Vermillion480
Crawford440
Switzerland440
Martin420
Union350
Warren201
Unassigned0202

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97471

Reported Deaths: 3618
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin17834521
Cuyahoga13141491
Hamilton9374252
Lucas5155320
Montgomery417487
Summit3433218
Marion291045
Butler282262
Mahoning2477254
Pickaway237842
Stark1766137
Warren171136
Lorain168977
Columbiana161860
Trumbull1481105
Fairfield130931
Delaware126319
Licking120247
Clark111514
Lake107338
Wood99358
Clermont89211
Medina88735
Miami81137
Tuscarawas76214
Portage74361
Allen69942
Greene65611
Belmont59226
Richland58911
Mercer57313
Erie55627
Ashtabula55045
Geauga54844
Wayne51958
Ross4444
Huron3885
Ottawa36825
Sandusky36316
Darke36027
Athens3531
Hancock3533
Madison34910
Holmes3266
Lawrence2420
Auglaize2395
Union2331
Jefferson2192
Muskingum2151
Scioto2111
Putnam19917
Washington19822
Knox1917
Seneca1903
Coshocton1886
Shelby1774
Preble1762
Crawford1715
Morrow1652
Hardin15912
Clinton1586
Champaign1571
Highland1461
Fulton1441
Logan1402
Ashland1373
Wyandot1368
Defiance1334
Williams1303
Brown1232
Perry1163
Guernsey1147
Hocking1149
Henry1132
Carroll1105
Fayette1090
Monroe9118
Pike750
Jackson730
Van Wert701
Paulding640
Gallia621
Adams592
Meigs330
Vinton302
Morgan230
Harrison221
Noble170
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
59° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 59°
Angola
Few Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 55°
Huntington
Scattered Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
54° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 54°
Van Wert
54° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 54°
Sunny, Seasonable Saturday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events