RVM RIP: New FCC Chairwoman Sets Her Sights on Ringless Voicemail

As TCPA.World readers know, ringless voicemail is pretty dangerous technology. Long hailed—by its developers—as TCPA proof, courts across the nation have refused to credit any distinction between direct-to-voidemail messages and those that cause a phone to ring.

While there ae arguments to be made here—most convincingly that business class landlines are used to deliver the message and not numbers assigned to wireless numbers—the courts are presently unanimous that the use of RVM triggers the TCPA.

Well it looks like the FCC’s Chairwoman—Jessica Rosenworcel —is of the same mind.

In a press release out today the Chairwoman’s office has signaled its intent to clarify that ringless voicemail are, in fact, subject to the TCPA. The proposal would address a (since withdrawn) petition submitted to the FCC by All About the Message way back in 2017. (Just goes to show folks, some bells cannot be unrung.)

The full content of the release is below:

CHAIRWOMAN ROSENWORCEL AIMS TO PROTECT CONSUMERS FROM UNWANTED ‘RINGLESS VOICEMAIL’ ROBOCALLS

Proposal Declares Technology that Leaves Ringless Voicemails on Consumer Cell

Phones Is Subject to FCC Robocalling Restrictions

WASHINGTON, February 2, 2022—Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel today shared with her colleagues an action which would, if adopted by a vote of the full Commission, require callers to obtain a consumer’s consent before delivering a “ringless voicemail,” a message left in their mailbox without ringing their cell phone.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which protects consumers from unwanted robocalls, prohibits making any non-emergency call using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice to a wireless telephone number without the prior express consent of the called party.

“Ringless voicemail can be annoying, invasive, and can lead to fraud like other robocalls so it should face the same consumer protection rules,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. “No one wants to wade through voicemail spam, or miss important messages because their mailbox is full. This FCC action would continue to empower consumers to choose which parties they give permission to contact them.”

The Declaratory Ruling and Order responds to a petition filed by All About the Message. The petitioner asked the Commission to find that delivery of a message directly to a consumer’s cell phone voicemail is not a call protected by the TCPA. The Chairwoman’s proposed action would find ringless voicemails are, in fact, “calls” that require consumers’ prior express consent, and thus deny the petition.

This is just further proof that RVM cannot be used to contact a cell phone without express consent. While there may be arguments to the contrary, don’t believe any phonies who tell you RVM technology is safe and/or TCPA compliant.

Always connect with a lawyer before using starting any new outreach engagement. Dangerous stuff.

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