You Don’t Need to Read This. Nothing Happened. And That’s Not A Great Thing

So I sat through nearly three hours of the Senate Commerce Committee’s hearing yesterday on the Federal Communications Commission and I can safely report that it was a giant waste of time, at least as far as the hearing pertained to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. I was expecting significantly more than what was said during the hearing. Sen. John Thune [R-S.D.], the chairman of the committee, mentioned robocalls during his opening remarks. And a couple of Senators made comments or asked basic questions about robocalls of the four FCC commissioners who were testifying, but there was nothing of value or substance that was really discussed.

The hearing was pretty boring. Not that most Congressional hearings aren’t boring. But after watching Mick Mulvaney and Kathy Kraninger deal with barbs and attacks during their recent hearings before House and Senate committees, maybe my expectations had been raised too high. Maybe I was expecting too much. I had started a fresh, new page in my notebook with the heading, “FCC Hearing,” and I have three lines written underneath it — W.V. Senator (Sen. Shelley Moore Capito) – question about spoofing. Markey – question on status. Blumenthal – question. That’s it. In retrospect, I don’t know what I should have expected. I was hoping, I guess, for some timelines or clarity on what’s going on with the TCPA.

The Senators on the Commerce Committee seemed more interested in discussing just about anything else related to the FCC — rural broadband issues, making sure students have access to the Internet, the rollout of a 5G network, and a denial-of-service attack on the FCC’s servers related to its net neutrality rule. I’m sure all of those are important topics, just not to the ARM industry.

Collection agencies find themselves fighting in a fog when it comes to complying with the TCPA right now. The Court of Appeals ruling in ACA International v. FCC was a victory for the industry, but its wake has left a sea of confusion. Courts are reaching different interpretations of what is and is not allowed, and the FCC’s revised rule that is needed to clean up and redefine a number of important components of the TCPA still appears to be incredibly far off on the horizon.

Yesterday’s hearing appeared to be a golden opportunity for the FCC to shed some light on what it’s thinking and how it’s planning to address the TCPA both in the short- and long-term. Instead, the ARM industry continues to be in the dark.


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