FCC Commissioner O’Rielly May Empower Telemarketers

A new FCC commissioner has shown his true colors with a bill to repeal the Do Not Call registry. The conservative Republican’s proposal is likely to spark debate among regulators and lawmakers in Washington, D.C., as well as industry stakeholders at home and abroad over how best to combat unsolicited calls from telemarketers..

The “Telecommunications Act of 1996” is a law that regulates the telecommunications industry. The “Telecommunications Consumer Protection Act” prohibits telemarketers from calling cell phone numbers without consent, unless they are an existing customer or on behalf of a company with whom the consumer has an established business relationship. Read more in detail here: tcpa.

FCC Commissioner O'Rielly May Empower Telemarketers

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) may soon be a shadow of its former self if the FCC commissioner has his way.

The TCPA would be weakened as a result of these revisions, which many believe has become too strong in recent years.

On May 4, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael O’Rielly gave a lecture at the ACA International’s Washington Insights Conference, outlining substantial reforms he wants to see implemented to the TCPA. These amendments, predictably, would weaken the act, which many businesses and courts believe has become too strong in recent years.

“We have the potential to correct the mistaken and damaging TCPA rulings of the past that exposed legitimate firms to tremendous legal liabilities without really protecting consumers,” Mr. O’Rielly stated under his leadership.

Here are the three areas where he said that he would want to see improvements:

  • Companies should be able to contact clients for informative and telemarketing reasons, according to Mr. O’Rielly. “We need to implement wider regulation adjustments to guarantee that all consumers have access to relevant and timely information,” he said.
  • He wants the definition of an autodialer to be narrowed, since it now covers cellphones. According to Mr. O’Rielly, reputable firms should be allowed to contact customers “in a timely way.”
  • Finally, Mr. O’Rielly argued that the FCC should concentrate on the spirit of the TCPA rather than the language. He wants the FCC to pursue actions solely against corporations with poor intents or abusive methods, rather than well-intentioned companies that may have broken the TCPA in minor or technical ways.

Mr. O’Rielly continued by expressing his worry that TCPA change would be “greeted with frenzied assertions about the damages that may befall consumers,” and underlining that the FCC must calm such anxieties by pledging to continue to defend consumer rights.

Mr. O’Rielly’s vision for the TCPA is unclear as to when and how it will be realized, but given his views and the Trump administration’s dedication to deregulation, the TCPA is likely to undergo significant changes.


Trump is attempting to roll down regulations.

Despite Donald Trump’s lack of explicit comments on the TCPA, he has frequently promised to reduce government regulations to allow companies to operate more freely.

The Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs was signed by Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump signed the Presidential Executive Order on Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs only two weeks after taking office, requiring all federal agencies to remove two rules for every one they established.

Mr. Trump released the Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing the Regulatory Reform Agenda a few weeks later, which aims to discover and delete unnecessary regulations.

Mr. Trump claimed during his inaugural speech to Congress that he would “cut the constraints” on the FDA’s “slow and cumbersome approval process,” which “keeps too many advancements… from reaching people in need.”


His budget proposes significant cutbacks to a variety of domestic programs, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), all of which would significantly restrict these agencies’ ability to regulate corporations.

Neil Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, is typically seen as more inclined to side with companies than with consumers. Meanwhile, the House just enacted the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017, which would make it far more difficult to file class action cases.

All of the aforementioned positions and proposals indicate that the Trump administration and Congress aim to repeal laws and regulations that obstruct companies from running and developing to their full potential. The TCPA, which has resulted in multimillion-dollar consumer awards, is an obvious target.

The TCPA’s Reputation is Ruined by Professional Plaintiffs

The fact that Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign was sued for breaching the TCPA last spring doesn’t assist the TCPA’s case. It also doesn’t help that some litigants have openly abused the TCPA for financial benefit.


Melody Stoops, according to Forbes, acquired 35 mobile phones solely for the purpose of gathering nuisance calls and texts that she might use to pursue TCPA cases against telemarketers.

“It’s my business,” Ms. Stoops said in court after filing at least 11 TCPA complaints. It’s what I’m good at.” (Another plaintiff, Nicole Blow, just filed a TCPA case in the amount of $1.8 billion.)

“It’s my business,” she says. It’s what I’m good at.”

Ms. Stoops’ most recent action, against Wells Fargo in Pennsylvania, was lost by this brazen use of the law. Judge Kim R. Gibson dismissed the complaint after learning about the plaintiff’s “vocation,” claiming that Ms. Stoops had not been injured since she sought out the calls.

“Because Plaintiff has stated that her only goal in utilizing her mobile phones is to file TCPA cases,” Judge Gibson said, “the calls are not a nuisance and an invasion of privacy.”

Cases like Ms. Stoops’ might jeopardize not just her profession, but also the legislation that underpins it – which is designed to protect customers rather than reward them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the FCC doing about robocalls?

A: The FCC is working on a new law that would make it easier to combat robocalls. Among other things, the proposed law will allow phone companies to block calls from certain numbers.

What does the FCC commissioner do?

A: The FCC commissioner enforces and regulates the communications industry. They monitor safety issues, help setting policies for radio frequencies, oversee enforcement actions in this area as well as administrative proceedings on acceptance of applications to use radio frequency spectrum.

How do I report telemarketers to the FCC?

A: To report telemarketers, you can call the National Do Not Call Registry at 1-888-382-1222 or visit https://donotcall.gov

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