FCC Seeks Comment on Ringless Voicemail Petition

The Federal Communications Commission has announced it is seeking comments from the public related to a petition for declaratory ruling that asks the regulator 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 in July by Perdue for Senate, and is an attempt by the campaign to defend a TCPA lawsuit that it is facing for using ringless voicemails to promote his candidacy.

Comments on the petition will be accepted until October 4. Comments can be filed electronically at http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/, using CG Docket No. 02-278, or can be sent via traditional mail to the FCC.

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 Most recently, a petition filed by a company called All About The Message back in 2017 was subsequently withdrawn by the company.

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