WASHINGTON (3/24/16)--Several commissioners with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) fielded questions about the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in a U.S. House hearing this week. There were hints from the agency officials that they revisit the definition of “autodialer" within the TCPA.
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on communications and technology conducted the FCC oversight hearing Tuesday.
The FCC issued a an Omnibus TCPA Order in July 2015, and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) has engaged in numerous advocacy efforts to highlight that the the ruling has a detrimental impact on credit unions' ability to contact members with important account information.
CUNA filed an amicus brief in litigation challenging the TCPA order, saying it “severely restricts the ability of financial institutions and other callers to engage in useful, and often urgent, communications with their customers and members.”
CUNA has also raised this issue with the FCC, members of Congress, as well as the National Credit Union Administration, highlighting the obstacles the TCPA ruling creates in terms of credit union communications to members.
During Tuesday’s hearings, Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.) asked several questions about the issues created by the TCPA rules regarding communications with consumers.
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said that the TCPA, which was enacted in 1991, is in need of an update, and also acknowledged that the TCPA creates challenging lawsuits for companies that never intended to be on wrong side of it.
Commissioner Ajit Pai said, in response to another question from Bilirakis, the FCC may revisit the definition of “autodialer” to give more clarity, but also said it would be helpful for Congress to update the TCPA.
Commissioner Michael O’Reilly said he believes the current FCC definition of autodialer is wrong, and the FCC needs to clarify it.
CUNA has noted in its communications to Congress and various agencies that the order’s expansion of the definition of autodialer makes it very difficult for credit unions to determine what types of calling devices are subject to the TCPA, and effectively prohibits them from using many efficient dialing technologies.