RNC, Chamber Of Commerce Say A Robocall Isn’t A Robocall If It Goes Straight To Voicemail
An automated, prerecorded phone call that goes straight to voicemail may be slightly less annoying than a robocall that causes your phone to ring, but is it any less of a robocall? The Republican National Committee and the lobbyists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce think these “ringless” robocalls are just fine, and have asked the FCC to allow telemarketers to use them.
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act places restrictions on the use of prerecorded and autodialed calls to wireless phones, limit their use to emergencies and cases where the recipient has given prior consent to receiving the robocall.
A company called All About The Message (AATM) has developed technology that lets it deliver messages straight to a recipient’s voicemail without actually calling the phone. It recently petitioned [PDF] the Federal Communications Commission, asking it to declare that such direct-to-voicemail messages fall outside the umbrella of the TCPA, or to grant the company a waiver to deliver these messages without fear of the penalties that could result from violating the TCPA.
This petition has received support from businesses and politicians, particularly in the form of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the RNC.
The Chamber’s comments [PDF] point out that this new ringless robocall technology is not like the random number or sequential number dialers that Congress first sought to restrict when it enacted the TCPA back in 1991, and argue that the FCC “cannot continue to sweep new technologies into this technologically-archaic statute.” If Congress wants to bar this technology, it should put it in law, claims the Chamber.
That seems unlikely, given both the political advertising potential for ringless robocalls and the fact that the Republican National Committee is also asking for the FCC to grant the AATM petition.