Petition Filed With FCC to Clarify Whether Certain Ringless Voicemails Count as Calls Under TCPA

A petition has been filed with the Federal Communications Commission seeking to clarify whether a ringless voicemail constitutes a call under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s prohibitions against using an automated telephone dialing system to contact an individual on his or her cell phone without first having consent to do so.

The petition was filed last week by Perdue for Senate, the campaign of former David Perdue, who lost his bid to retain his seat in Georgia in January, and was first brought to light by TCPAWorld.com. The petition was filed to help him try and defend against a TCPA lawsuit he is facing for using ringless voicemails to help promote his campaign, TCPAWorld noted.

Because ringless voicemails are not the same as a traditional phone call, because it does not use a wireless network to complete the transmission of the message, and because individuals are not billed for receiving voicemails are the reasons cited in the petition why the technology should not be included in the definition of a “call” under the TCPA.

Ringless voicemails are automatically placed into an individual’s voicemail box without the individual’s phone ever ringing. Because the recipients are not charged for receiving the message and because they are not bothered with a phone that rings, the technology is considered to be an alternative to trying to communicate using traditional phone calls.

There have been petitions filed with the FCC in the past seeking clarification on whether ringless voicemails fall under the definition of “calls” as far as the TCPA is concerned. Most recently, a petition filed by a company called All About The Message back in 2017 was subsequently withdrawn by the company.

For the purposes of this petition, Perdue for Senate focused on the benefits of being able to “send important information to voters in a non-intrusive manner that minimizes the possibility of costly TCPA litigation.”

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