A year of change for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Last week, the President announced the promotion of Ajit Pai from commissioner to Chairman of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Pai’s promotion immediately led those in the telecom industry to speculate what his promotion means for some of the FCC’s recent rulings including the 2015 Omnibus TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) Order.

Chairman Tom Wheeler, under the Obama administration, believed the 2015 TCPA order furthered the protection of consumers from unwanted calls by clearly defining the use of dialers and express consent by consumers. Ajit Pai, however, was a vocal critic of the order questioning the definition, and writing a thorough dissent on the move by Wheeler’s FCC.

Pai, unlike Wheeler, believes forcing organizations that utilize dialers to receive prior consent won’t actually fix the problem consumers have with robocalls. He believes the definition of dialer and consent are too broad and open up companies to frivolous lawsuits without helping to decrease the robocall volume that’s such a nuisance to consumers.

Those in the telemarketing industry are predicting that the additional regulation introduced under Wheeler will not survive 2017. However, even with a good deal of insight into Pai’s beliefs and approach to the FCC, some are a little hesitant to make too many predictions. Pai is affiliated with the Republican party but he was appointed by President Obama and is widely believed to be mostly non-partisan.

So, the key takeaway is that TCPA will most likely change in the coming year but most in the industry just aren’t sure how much it will impact telemarketing companies or consumers.