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Chamber of Commerce challenges FCC’s robocall ruling

Chamber of Commerce challenges FCC’s robocall ruling
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The Chamber of Commerce is suing to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s new robocall restrictions approved in June. 

The massive trade group said the FCC’s ruling was filled with “overbroad and atextual interpretations” of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which governs the FCC’s authority to police robocalls. 

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“Because the TCPA is increasingly the basis for class action [lawsuits] that seek crippling damages ... these results are particularly harmful for the Chamber’s members,” the group wrote in a filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. 

The Chamber is the latest group to challenge the FCC’s move. ACA International, which represents creditors and collection agencies, filed its own legal challenge a few months back. 

The FCC proposal, approved in a 3-2 vote, would broaden the definition of autodialers, which can churn through numerous telephone numbers at the same time but are banned from calling mobile phones.

The ruling also makes it easier for people to revoke consent to be robocalled and prevents companies from making more than one robocall to a phone number that has recently switched hands. 

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler framed the move as a win for consumers that keeps the commission's rules up to date with changing technology. 

The Chamber is challenging all of those new interpretations. It said the expanded definition of an autodialer could cover even a “mass-market smartphone,” a criticism that GOP members of the commission have made before. 

There are a number of apps that can turn a smartphone into an autodialer, but Wheeler has said flat out that a standard smartphone is not considered an autodialer under the new regime. He said the commission is not focused on the hardware as much as the impact, noting autodialer technology has changed since the TCPA was passed. 

The Chamber also alleged that the new rule allowing consumers to more easily opt out of being called are largely unworkable. And the limits on calling a number that has been reassigned opens business up to litigation for “simply attempting in good faith to communicate with customers who previously provided valid consent to be contacted,” according to the Chamber. 

“The Declaratory Ruling and Order is arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion, in excess of the commission’s statutory authority, and otherwise contrary to the Constitution and other laws,” the Chamber wrote.