U.S. Chamber Of Commerce Sues FCC To Stop Efforts To Block Obnoxious Robocalls


Consumers hate getting endless robocalls on their landlines and cell phones, and with good reason: they’re incredibly annoying. But they exist for a reason, too: legitimate businesses and scammers alike both find that, to some degree, they work. So when the FCC proposes a rule to let consumers cut back on the annoyance in their lives, businesses are not necessarily thrilled.

That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is suing the FCC to block that new rule, the Hill reports.

The FCC voted 3-2 to adopt the changes back in June. As part of that proceeding, the commission delved heavily into the legal technicalities surrounding the definitions of autodialers and what, exactly, is covered under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

As technology has advanced, so too has autodialer tech. Where once upon a time robocalling hundreds, thousands, or millions of people used to take an actual machine hooked up to an actual phone, that time has gone. Now, it’s all VoIP software that can run on basically computer — including, yes, the phone-sized ones we all keep in our pockets and purses.

That’s one of the aspects that the Chamber of Commerce most objects to, The Hill explains. In their filing (PDF), claims, “The Declaratory Ruling and Order’s new, overbroad, and atextual interpretations of the TCPA will expose legitimate businesses across the country — of all sizes and types — to liability for simply attempting in good faith to communicate with customers who previously provided valid consent to be contacted.”

“Furthermore,” it continues, the ruling, “could turn even a mass-market smartphone into a covered ‘autodialer,’ and threatens to create an utterly unworkable regime for the logistics of receiving and processing consent revocation.”

Therefore, the petition concludes, the new rule is “arbitrary and capricious” and “an abuse of discretion in excess of the Commission’s statutory authority.”

The effort to stop the new rule is not unexpected. As part of his dissenting vote back in June, FCC commissioner Ajit Pai even dropped a self-fulfilling prophecy that “The primary beneficiaries [of the rule] will be trial lawyers, not American consumers.”

The Chamber of Commerce, of course, exists to represent business interests — even when those interests are not necessarily good for consumers.

Chamber of Commerce challenges FCC’s robocall ruling [The Hill]