Senators Ramp Up Lobbying of FCC For Creation of Reassigned Number Database

A pair of Senators continue to lobby the Federal Communications Commission to create a reassigned number database that would help prevent robocalls and unsolicited communications.

Sen. Edward Markey [D-Mass.], and Sen. John Thune [R-S.D.] sent the letter to Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, last week. Sen. Markey is one of the sponsors of the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, a bill that would expand the definition of automated telephone dialing system. A copy of the letter can be viewed by clicking here.

The FCC is working on a number of initiatives related to robocalls and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, both separately and in response to a ruling from the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in ACA International v. FCC. The FCC has issued a second notice of proposed rulemaking related to the creation of a reassigned number database, which would help companies identify numbers that have been reassigned to other individuals and are no longer useful for contacting their original owners.

Among the topics addressed by the Senators as key areas related to the creation of such a database — comprehensiveness, accuracy, accessibility, security, and efficiency, the Senators called for a safe harbor for shielding companies from TCPA liability for making calls to reassigned numbers, with consent, if certain conditions are met. Those conditions are:

  • The caller took all reasonable steps to properly use a reassigned numbers database, in a timely manner, made available under this rulemaking and validate the authenticity of the number prior to making the calls or texts
  • The call or text to a reassigned number was the result of inaccurate information received from the database
  • The caller had the consent of the consumer the caller was attempting to contact
  • The caller took appropriate steps to stop calling and texting the reassigned number and reported the inaccuracy

In a report about the letter, Leah Dempsey, vice president and senior counsel of federal advocacy for ACA International expressed the association’s support for a safe harbor, but said that Congress and the FCC should “address the larger TCPA concerns we have outlined to them such as the definition of an autodialer.”

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