Markey, Warren urge rejection of phone rule changes

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JAN. 28, 2015…U.S. Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren are pushing federal regulators to reject proposals that could provide exemptions for businesses to use auto-dialers and reach consumers’ mobile devices.

In a letter Wednesday addressed to the chair of the Federal Elections Commission, Tom Wheeler, the Massachusetts Democrats said the proposals could “undermine” the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, which sought to tamp down telemarketing, to set up a National Do Not Call Registry and to ban auto-dialing and pre-recorded calls, with some exceptions.

Other senators who signed onto the letter included Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Al Franken (D-MN).

“More than 20 years after the enactment of the TCPA, it is clear that consumers have benefited from the law’s protections,” they wrote, adding that the law created a “zone of privacy.”

“In 1991, Congress was primarily concerned with stopping phone calls while families were eating meals together, parents were helping children with homework, or workers were arriving home after work.”

The lawmakers wrote, “These protections should continue for years to come. The FCC should reject calls to weaken or undermine this effective law.”

According to Markey’s office, more than 223 million Americans have signed up with the National Do Not Call Registry since 2003.

In remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in November, FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said the law needs clarification, given the changes in business models and communications with potential customers.

“I do not and will not support bad actors that seek to pummel consumers with marketing efforts or abuse consumers with unfounded attempts at debt collection,” he said in the remarks, which were posted on the FCC’s website. “But for too many American companies seeking to conduct legitimate marketing or collection efforts, or even to communicate with subscribers or employees, the implementation and enforcement of TCPA has turned into a nightmare. Serious problems with TCPA have been faced by American companies serving every sector of U.S. commercial activity, including health care, education, banking, sports, tech, and consumer services.”

Copyright 2015 State House News Service

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