STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Rules against robocalls shouldn't be loosened

Thirty billion robocalls were made to American consumers ...

Posted: Nov 11, 2018 12:48 AM
Updated: Nov 11, 2018 12:48 AM

Thirty billion robocalls were made to American consumers in 2017, according to YouMail, a robocall-blocking service. And while robocalls, made with an automated dialer or using a prerecorded or artificial voice, torment Democrats, Republicans and independents alike, even on this issue, Washington leadership has found a way to divide along party lines.

The division is not over whether robocalls generally are a nuisance that should be addressed, but over which robocalls should be stopped. The robocalling industry is pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deregulate all automated robocalls made with a human agent by interpreting the definition for "automated telephone dialing systems" (autodialers) in a way that would not cover any automated systems being used by the callers.

Federal Communications Commission

Government organizations - US

US federal departments and agencies

US government independent agencies

Banking, finance and investments

Banking, lending and credit services

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Consumer electronics

Consumer products

Debt collection

Electronics

Mobile and cellular telephones

Mobile technology

Technology

Businesses using robocalls for debt collection and telemarketing are trying to capitalize on a recent DC Circuit Court decision that tasked the FCC with revisiting some of the rules that govern robocalls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA requires that callers have consent when they use autodialers to call cell phones, and that consumers can revoke that consent to stop the robocalls.

However, partisan lines have been drawn over whether some well-known companies, including many creditors and debt collectors, should be exempted from the TCPA's restrictions altogether. This would mean that consumers would no longer have the ability to stop calls from callers collecting debts -- regardless of how many times a day or a week the calls are made or whether they are even reaching the correct party. While some Democratic senators have opposed the loosening of regulations that would allow consumers to be inundated by these unwanted calls, Republicans have not taken action to stand up for consumers' rights.

Congress passed the TCPA in 1991 to address a surge in unwanted robocalls and faxes. The FCC has interpreted the TCPA to bar unwanted text messages as well as autodialed calls to cell phones without the recipient's consent.

But as the availability of software and equipment to make autodialed calls to cell phones rapidly expands, lobbyists and lawyers for the robocallers are in Washington, working to persuade the FCC to narrow the autodialer definition so that virtually none of the technologies currently used to make unwanted robocalls or send texts would be covered by these protections.

Giving in to the robocallers' demands would inevitably increase the number of robocalls made daily, likely by a factor of thousands. There would simply be no restrictions whatsoever on debt collection calls, survey calls, political calls or non-profits calling to solicit money, so long as those calls are made using live agents or technology that does not fit into the proposed, narrow autodialer definition. While the Do Not Call Registry would still apply, that rule protects us from only telemarketing calls, which are less than half of all robocalls.

The robocalling industry also hopes to persuade the FCC to strip consumers of their right to revoke consent. Frequently, consumers unknowingly consent to receive robocalls from companies they do business with in the fine print of loan documents, service contracts and consumer product terms and conditions.

Once consumers recognize they've given a business permission to robocall them, usually after receiving a number of unsolicited robocalls, they now have the legal right to inform the business that its calls are unwanted and demand that the calls stop. As things stand, the robocallers have to comply, but with the stroke of a pen, the FCC may allow them to ignore consumers' wishes.

Lobbyists for the businesses making robocalls don't appear confident in their own assertion that their calls are wanted communications between a business and its customers. If they were, they would support consumers' right to revoke consent -- assuming that their customers would not exercise that right.

More than a dozen Democratic senators have urged the FCC to maintain strong rules to limit unwanted robocalls and allow consumers to determine which calls are wanted. But in a true display of Washington dysfunction, that letter is void of any Republican signatures. Worse, some Republican senators wrote to the FCC urging it to side with the robocallers at the expense of consumers.

If Americans are to have confidence in the democratic process, lawmakers must find common ground on issues that directly impact their constituents. An issue as wide-reaching and universally despised as robocalls provides just the opportunity. Congress and the FCC should honor the will of their constituents and reject efforts by big businesses and robocalling industry lobbyists to flood our cell phones with even more unwanted robocalls.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 37624

Reported Deaths: 1503
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12150785
Ramsey4805226
Stearns234519
Dakota228690
Anoka2180107
Nobles16626
Olmsted110115
Washington106940
Mower9452
Rice8357
Scott7004
Clay58538
Kandiyohi5701
Wright4565
Blue Earth4532
Todd4002
Carver3641
Lyon3092
Sherburne3075
Freeborn2900
Steele2281
Watonwan2160
Benton2143
St. Louis17715
Martin1635
Nicollet15912
Cottonwood1340
Goodhue1298
Winona12215
Crow Wing10612
Pine1030
Le Sueur981
Chisago971
Otter Tail931
McLeod880
Carlton850
Dodge840
Polk812
Chippewa781
Unassigned7637
Isanti720
Itasca6412
Waseca640
Douglas620
Meeker611
Morrison591
Murray580
Becker550
Faribault550
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pennington500
Pipestone371
Mille Lacs342
Renville322
Wabasha310
Brown302
Rock300
Yellow Medicine300
Beltrami290
Fillmore280
Houston250
Swift211
Norman200
Wilkin203
Redwood180
Cass152
Wadena150
Aitkin140
Big Stone140
Kanabec141
Koochiching141
Roseau130
Marshall120
Grant100
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen81
Clearwater70
Hubbard60
Lake60
Traverse50
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 30975

Reported Deaths: 720
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6464179
Woodbury321544
Black Hawk225258
Buena Vista171111
Johnson12648
Dallas126329
Linn126282
Marshall104319
Scott77810
Story7623
Pottawattamie72111
Wapello70630
Dubuque68322
Crawford6772
Muscatine62944
Sioux4630
Tama46229
Wright3801
Louisa36013
Jasper32317
Plymouth3165
Warren2731
Dickinson2642
Washington2369
Webster2132
Hamilton1871
Cerro Gordo1561
Boone1481
Clay1330
Clarke1312
Allamakee1284
Mahaska11517
Shelby1140
Clinton1071
Poweshiek1048
Carroll961
Pocahontas941
Bremer926
Franklin890
Des Moines882
Henry863
Emmet850
Cedar821
Taylor790
Monona760
Cherokee751
Floyd722
Hardin700
Marion700
Guthrie664
Benton651
Sac630
Jefferson590
Osceola590
Jones560
Humboldt541
Butler532
Harrison530
Lee532
Hancock510
Iowa510
Buchanan501
Monroe506
Calhoun492
Delaware491
Fayette480
Madison452
Clayton433
Lyon410
Palo Alto410
Davis391
Winneshiek380
Grundy370
Mitchell370
Mills360
Howard350
Kossuth340
Lucas304
Greene290
Jackson290
Chickasaw280
Winnebago280
Union270
Ida230
Cass220
Appanoose203
Keokuk201
Page200
Van Buren200
Worth190
Audubon161
Unassigned160
Adair150
Ringgold150
Decatur110
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
Rochester
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 69°
Mason City
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 68°
Albert Lea
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 68°
Austin
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
Charles City
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 70°
Hot, sticky, and stormy
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

House fire under investigation in Rochester

Image

Fireworks calls over holiday weekend

Image

Prepping for the postseason in Iowa

Image

Sean's 6pm Weather 7/5

Image

Alternative baseball hopes to come to the Med City in 2021

Image

FOURTH OF JULY IN AUSTIN AND STEWARTVILLE

Image

Seans 6pm Weather 7/4

Image

Fans excited for Honkers return

Image

Honkers fall to St. Cloud in home opener

Image

Baseball returns to the Med City

Community Events