December 13, 2023 — Press Release

New Regulations Will Better Protect Consumers from Scourge of Unwanted and Illegal Calls

WASHINGTON – Advocates with the National Consumer Law Center, Public Knowledge, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) applaud the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for voting today to clarify its rules on telemarketing calls by unequivocally prohibiting the abuse of consumer consent by lead generators. 

“By issuing this final rule, the FCC has chosen to protect U.S. telephone subscribers rather than lead generators who are largely at fault for the billion-plus monthly telemarketing calls,” said Margot Saunders, senior counsel at the National Consumer Law Center. “Reducing the number of telemarketing messages will also make it easier for telephone service providers to identify and block scam calls, as scam call traffic can be hidden within large volumes of telemarketing call traffic.”

Rather than acquiescing to the current practices of lead generators (and the sellers who use these entities to telemarket their products and services), by a 4 to 1 vote, today the FCC has opted to implement the protections Congress intended when it passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), advocates assert. 

“The FCC’s order today clarifies what we believe is already the law: that every prerecorded call and autodialed text that contains telemarketing is illegal unless the recipient signed a prior express written agreement that specifically authorized calls from that seller,” said Chris Frascella, an attorney with the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Once in force, this clarification should eliminate the great majority of unwanted, and unconsented to, telemarketing calls and texts.”

Numerous groups and commenters had encouraged the FCC to take this step in addition to the coalition led by NCLC, Public Knowledge, and EPIC, including Appleseed, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates, National Consumers League, and U.S. PIRG. Supportive comments were also provided by 28 state Attorneys General, USTelecom, and 12 U.S. Senators.

“These rules are a real win for anyone who hates dealing with spam and scams, and that’s pretty much everyone,” said Nicholas P. Garcia, policy counsel at Public Knowledge. “Closing up loopholes that enable lead generator websites to abuse consumer content will radically reduce the number of unwanted telemarketing calls and texts.” 

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EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. EPIC was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging privacy and related human rights issues, and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values. EPIC routinely files amicus briefs in Telephone Consumer Protection Act cases, has participated in legislative and regulatory processes concerning the TCPA, and has a particular interest in protecting consumers from robocallers.

Public Knowledge is a consumer advocacy group that works at the intersection of copyright, telecommunications, and internet law to promote policies that serve the public interest. Public Knowledge advocates for freedom of expression, net neutrality, online privacy, affordable broadband access, digital platform competition, and other policies that benefit the public. In all our work, we endeavor to promote a creative and connected future for all Americans.

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