Dem senators press FCC not to allow straight-to-voicemail telemarketing

Dem senators press FCC not to allow straight-to-voicemail telemarketing
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Democratic senators are calling on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai not to allow telemarketers to leave “ringless voicemails” on potential customers' phones.

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats offer cybersecurity bill for 'internet of things' Democrats introduce SWAMP Act to ban meetings with foreign leaders at Trump properties Flight attendant union endorses Markey in Senate primary battle MORE, Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenators have chance to double funding for women entrepreneurs—they should take it On The Money: Trump dismisses 'phony Emoluments Clause' after Doral criticism | Senate Dems signal support for domestic spending package | House panel to consider vaping tax Senate Dems signal they'll support domestic spending package MORE (Vt.) and other Democrats penned a letter to Pai, asking that he not allow companies to leave messages soliciting business on consumer’s phones that go straight to their voicemail.

The FCC is currently considering a petition from firms that would like the commission to revise its position on such calls, which are currently barred under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991.

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“Exempting ringless voicemails from the TCPA’s autodialer protections would allow callers to overwhelm consumers with ringless voice messages without first receiving express consumer consent,” the senators. “Whether by robocall, by robotext, or by ringless voicemail, consumers should have meaningful control over who can and cannot contact their mobile device.” 

Republicans have voiced support for ringless voicemail companies. The Republican National Committee filed a comment to the FCC in May arguing that restrictions on such types of calls could “burden” freedom of speech.

Attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts and Kentucky had previously called on the commission not to allow ringless voicemails as well, arguing that automated calls from telemarketers are already too rampant. 

When asked for comment at the time, the FCC said that a spokesperson said that they had received a petition from the ringless voicemail company “All About The Message,” but that they do not comment pending petitions.

“After review of the record, the Commission will consider a decision to resolve the question posed by the petition,” a spokesperson said.

The commission is technically obligated to resolve such petitions, however there is no required timeline to do so, meaning that the FCC could indefinitely delay a decision on the petition.