Hate to bring some bad news, but this is bad news city.
Last week Public Knowledge filed a reply comment with the FCC asking the Commission to end lead generation as we know it. Completely.
Here is the ask:
[T]he Commission should issue a declaratory ruling to explicitly require that express consent to receive calls or texts must be made directly to one entity at a time in response to the 2020 petition of Assurance IQ, LLC.11 Even though Assurance requested that its petition be dismissed, the issues raised in the proceeding are critical for striking at one of the root causes of unwanted and illegal robocall proliferation: lead generators and data brokers. Lead generators and data brokers harvest consumer telephone numbers along with thin—if not outright fraudulent—consent agreements attached and pass on those numbers and supposed consents to telemarketers and scam callers.
That’s right, Public Knowledge is putting lead generators directly in the crosshairs, telling the FCC it must act to shut down third-party leads completely.
The reply goes on:
As described in the Public Interest Comments and Public Interest ex parte, an unwitting consumer might enter their phone number on a website purporting to give an insurance quote only to have that be interpreted as “explicit consent” to receive calls from literally thousands of “partners,” most of which have nothing to do with insurance. The opaque web of relationships between those collecting, distributing, and making calls further complicates efforts to trace a path of accountability for such actions.12 The Commission should take swift action to explicitly denounce these practices and clarify that they are illegal under existing law. Doing so would immediately have a significant impact on the commercial ecosystem that supports unwanted and illegal phone calls and text message.
This is a huge moment in time folks. If industry continues to rest on its laurels–literally no advocacy is taking place in front of the FCC right now by the lead gen industry–the FCC (particularly this FCC) is likely to act and in swift and damaging fashion.
There is a solution, of course. The Czar.
Well, R.E.A.C.H. 🙂
CALLING FOR BOARD MEMBERS: READ the Email the Czar Just Sent Seeking Board Members for R.E.A.C.H. ARE YOU IN?
There is still time to submit to join the board (really it ends today but in light of this development I will extend a bit.) And those of you attending the Summit next week will have a chance to speak with a couple of R.E.A.C.H.’s executive members–so that will be fun.
Bottom line: it is an absolutely critical time for lead buyers to come together to set standards and best practices to present to the FCC for approval in connection with this latest set of comments. Once standards are created–needs to happen NOW folks–we can sit down with the Commissioners and their staff and present a PLAN to assure that RESPONSIBLE ENTERPRISES in the lead generation and direct to consumer game can live on.
Failing to do so will likely mean third party (and perhaps other) leads will be outlawed completely. Let those who have ears, hear. Trying to keep you folks in business. (And why am I the only one talking about this?)
Full comment here: Comment
AGs already taking action against the most questionable leads and questionable consent, so this isn’t just an FCC problem for the lead generation industry. https://www.abc27.com/pennsylvania/shapiro-files-suit-against-new-york-company-allegedly-causing-robocalls-in-pennsylvania/
I would like to read the PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE filing with the FCC, how do I get it?
There was a link marked Full Comment Here: Comment at the very end of the post. Click on it.
You say “[t]rying to keep you folks in business.” Since we already know that the majority of leads are bad, why are you trying to keep people in business that are abusing consumers who do not want to receive telephone solicitations and robocalls?
It’s an obsolete business model anyway. When I need to buy a new sequined polyester leisure suit, I don’t give my phone number to some random website and then wait for twenty different leisure suit companies to call me. I expect to be able to select the product that I want, and complete the transaction over the internet without making or receiving a phone call.
Now, suppose my suit requires an appointment with a tailor. Or maybe I neglected to specify the color of the codpiece that I wanted, and the seller needs to ask me. Any follow-up communication can be handled by email or a chat app on a website, which is going to be a lot more effective than making phone calls from an unfamiliar number. And there should *never* be the need for a robocall. I’d like to see the lead sellers invest in technology to integrate more steps of the purchasing process, rather than in lobbying the FCC to let them continue using a dying medium.
If the abused public really knew that the FCC is mulling over this issue there would be OVERWHELMING support for its passage. Anti-robocall laws have been totally ineffective or outright ignored by this industry for decades. It’s too late for reform. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end for Big Data.