“DIRECTLY” DISPUTED: Why One Word in the FCC’s New NPRM May Shut Down the Entire Lead Generation Industry

Yes, the Czar is a superhero now… big ups to Pesach Lattin for giving me the treatment here. Really cool.

Much has been said about the FCC’s new NPRM that seeks to close the “lead generation” loophole. Too much, by too many, actually. And they’re not all saying the same thing.

Heavy sigh.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that most folks–including lawyers who are speaking on the subject for some reason–are missing the single most important (or at least potentially impactful) component of the NPRM. Or they are simply choosing to ignore it. Really not sure which. Doesn’t matter though, either way it is incredibly dangerous.

The Czar breaks is down in ~1 min. For more GREAT content follow our INCREDIBLE YouTube channel!

So let me make this absolutely crystal clear so there can be no further mistake about it (and if you hear anyone else speak on this subject without addressing this issue–call them out as a phony and tell them to hush up and stop misleading people.)

The issue in the NPRM is the Public Knowledge proposal “that prior express consent to receive calls or texts must be made directly to one entity at a time.”

For whatever reason folks are completely overlooking this or suggesting–incorrectly–that it is tied to some sort “one to one” consent process where there can only be one (or a few) companies listed on a form but consent can still flow through an intermediary.

That is NOT what this says. And it is NOT what the Commission is considering. Stated more accurately, the Commission is considering MULTIPLE things. Including:

  1. A revision to the CFR to determine “express written consent for a call or text may be to a single entity, or to multiple entities logically and topically associated. If the prior express written consent is to multiple entities, the entire list of entities to which the consumer is giving consent must be clearly and conspicuously displayed to the consumer at the time consent is requested. To be clearly and conspicuously displayed, the list must, at a minimum, be displayed on the same web page where the consumer gives consent.” (Important to keep in mind but NOT the industry-killer we should be focused on); and ALTERNATIVELY
  2. Whether consent must be provided directly to the seller (which would be a real killer).

And lest there be any confusion as to what “directly” means, look at footnote 163 of the NPRM. It reads: “telemarketers ignore the requirement that the express invitation or permission can only be provided by the consumer directly to the seller.”

The Commission is already laying the ground work here to find that there is a “requirement” that consumers provide consent DIRECTLY TO THE SELLER.

That mean there can be no intermediaries here at all folks. Again, consent must go directly to the seller.

What does the word “directly” mean?


with nothing or no one in between.

Get it? NO intermediaries. NO data leads. NO warm transfers. NO lead generation industry as we understand it-at least no PEWC transfer.

I can’t make this any clearer.

So while it is true that the Commission is ALSO considering limiting hyperlinks, imposing one-to-one consents on forms and destroying multi-vertical websites (and those things are important too) the absolutely CRITICAL piece of the NPRM that folks need to line up against is the requirement that consent be provided DIRECTLY to the seller.

Now R.E.A.C.H. has already reminded the Commission that such a rule would be a VAST departure from the current law and incredibly disruptive to the industry. But it should would be GREAT if everyone else got on board here and actually HELPED the Czar save the industry at this point…

Speaking of R.E.A.C.H. you probably noticed the NPRM was MODIFIED by the FCC to address the R.E.A.C.H. standards ahead of release. It also noted R.E.A.C.H.’s goals of stopping a billion unwanted calls a month. Plus R.E.A.C.H. and Amerilife just joined forces to address the “directly” issue in a call with FCC staff on Monday, and I will provide more on all of that soon.

So we are fighting like mad here–and to good early effect–but we need others lined up and fighting too. Unfortunately it has been crickets from most in the industry to this point… (other than QS.)

One last note, sorry for the relatively limited content recently. The Czar is travelling coast to coast and everywhere in between right now, advocating for clients as well as for the industry. I’m pushing hard thee next few weeks but will pause to share a blog or two where I can. Always love you though TCPAWorld. Hang in there!




  1. How will the FCC enforce this? Lead Generation will go blackmarket. It is absurd not to allow companies to contract out their lead generation. The government contracts out all the time. How can they prevent private companies from doing the same?

  2. Wow. You people really can’t take a hint. The only people who advocate for lead generation are the people who stand to profit from it. There’s no “customer” demand. I put customer in parentheses, because most people are “customers” against their will. Most of your “customers” aren’t people who want anything to do with any of you. Most are people who did want or need some other service or product .. and were forced to check some box that agreed to receiving texts and calls from people we’d rather run over with our cars than receive a phone call from. But there usually isn’t a choice to select “yes, I want this one thing and only this thing. If it were legal, I would send a hitman to shoot anyone else you give my contact information to that calls me in the face”.. which is what everyone would select, if we had the option.
    And let me stop you before you try making the argument that people don’t have to agree to receive these unwanted solicitations. Because for one, they’re everywhere. And two, they are forced upon consumers under extortion. There is almost never an option to proceed in getting the thing you want, without being forced to agree to a bunch of leaches harassing you for the rest of your life.
    For example.. cell service providers, home internet providers, banks, streaming services, direct deposit employer pay cards, car insurance, money transfer services, online shopping, online warranty registration, online health services, website registrations… and on and on and on.
    There’s no other choice but to agree. It’s either agree to be harassed until you snap, track one of these people down, and murder them.. and ultimately going to prison… because that’s the only place they can’t call you 23 times a day from 6am to 8pm.
    It’s either check the box to agree, or nothing. And you can’t just say “well I don’t want to agree, so I’ll just take my business to a competitor”.. because they all do it. There’s no choice. If you don’t agree to it here, you’ll have to agree to it somewhere else.
    So what? People just aren’t going to have cell service or internet service or car insurance or bank accounts or streaming subscriptions or register warranties on their consumer goods or get their paycheck on that fly-by-night (uninsured) bank* (*not a “bank” , it’s a “financial institution”, specifically not insured by the FDIC. Even though ” bank” is actually in the company’s name. Look, here’s MC Hammer and Montel Williams to reassure you ” it’s all good baby”.. and you can trust them, they used to be famous!) Payroll debt card your employer gave them?
    Because if you want any of those things, you have to agree to being harassed. And you can’t go to a competitor, they also require you to check the harassment box.

    We aren’t “leads”. And there’s no “lead generation” occuring. We are people who wanted/needed something having nothing to do with you, who were forced to either check the “I understand I’ll be harassed” box, or go with out the basic standards/requirements/conveniences/ necessities/benefits of modern day life in society.
    Nobody wants to hear from any of you. If we could make a list of people by group who should be executed “wholesale” from society..you’d all be on that list, near the top. In fact. The only thing you’d be spared of, is mercy. It wouldn’t even be a debate.

    We don’t want you to contact us about anything. The fact that you do anyways, makes us wish death upon you and all who you love. And the fact that you are so seemingly oblivious of how you are a literal disease upon society.. makes us hope that death is slow and horrifying.
    I’m not exaggerating, I’m not embellishing, and I’m not being hyperbolic. I’m also not a minority nor an extreme outlier. I am the collective majority, the average sentiment, the general consensus.
    If you were walking across a street, I wouldn’t speed up.. but I wouldn’t slow down either.
    And nobody would miss you.
    I’m only saying what everyone else is thinks about “lead generation” and the people who commit it. Notice I say those “who commit it”. Because to everyone else.. your not conducting business, you’re committing an offence.

    You’re services are not valuable. At least, they aren’t valuable to anyone but you. Your “industry” is a plague upon mankind. At the very least, half of you are outright crooks, scammers, and thieves. Half the “industry” is nothing but strait up, unadulterated, dictionary definition.. fraud. And the other half?
    You’re either a naive temp worker who just got assigned to a call center, and are buying the “when you get hired on” cool aid they’re selling you. You’re a delusional facade of a person, who can’t afford not to live in denial.. because you have too much investment in the lie. Or you’re just a terrible worthless person that society would be better off without.

    We aren’t leads. We’re hostages.

    We just wanted a cell phone or needed car insurance or get our paychecks on direct deposit employee debt pay cards.

    Yesterday, I got 32 calls from “scam likely”, 3 calls about Medicare that I don’t have and won’t even be eligible to get for another 20 years, 2 calls about assistance for student loans I don’t have, 1 call offering a student loan I don’t want, one call about utility assistance I don’t need, debt consolidation for debts I don’t have, 1 prerecorded call about my IRS debt with the “United States and America department of investigations representative” (Funny how it seems like every single person who works for the IRS these days lives in India.), a call from a strange phone number that contained a letter that left a 20 second voicemail of nothing but static, 1 person calling about a survey, 1 call from my father, 1 voicemail about insurance I’m not interested in…
    Then.. 3 text messages saying I was approved for my instant loan up to some absurd amount (50k..Riiiight)that I didn’t apply for, 1 text message approving a loan for the same absurd amount for the person who used to have my phone number (for the last year since I got my new number, I get half a dozen texts a week approving the previous person to have this number (Tequisha Meyers)for thousands of dollars in loans.. which is odd, seeing as she couldn’t even keep her cellphone on and ended up losing her number.. are there categories of loans below subprime?
    But I digress..

    2 actual calls yesterday, yet my phone was going off every 15 minutes with trash calls. Because someone have them my number.. and said I might be interested in a bunch of things I absolutely am not interested in one bit. In fact, I’m so far beyond not interested.. that the mere mention of them illicit’s anger..
    Does that sound like a lead to you?

    All you do, is sell contact information that was exhorted from people who want nothing to do with you, back and forth between each other ..
    You provide nothing of any worth or value to anyone.
    God speed to the FTC .. I wish them success in removing the cancer called lead generation from our society.
    It’s been a long time coming. It’s exactly what needs to be done. When you see leaches, you take a hot poker and burn them off..

    1. respect the passion. folks in the industry should take note of sentiments like these. THIS is how upset people are from the industry’s abuses. And THIS is why the FCC is acting as it is. And THIS is why the industry needs real standards…

    2. TCPA allows for a consumer to transact without providing Express Consent. It’s why every lead generation form is required to offer such a path, and should have an 800# for just that purpose. This path allows the consumer to not submit their information or provide their Express Consent, yet still transact. Every form we deploy at BuyologyIQ has such a path. Further, a lead can only legally be distributed the maximum number of times as stated on the form’s disclosures, and only to fulfillment partners listed on the form that provide the service being advertised and requested. That is typically no more than 4 companies in a semi-exclusive scenario, or a single fulfillment partner in many cases. TSR and TCPA only allow for consumer calls to be made for the specific product the consumer is requesting. A marketer cannot use a privacy policy or disclosure that allows for other unrelated goods or services not specifically advertised and listed, to be sold by way of telephony to the consumer by 3rd parties. They would not have Express Consent to call. For example, if you complete a form for a bathroom remodel in your home, only 1-4 companies who were listed and who provide that specific advertised and requested service can compliantly call a consumer if they submit an information request (Lead). The consumer can always can request to be opted-out after submitting their information, and by law the calling company must remove you from their list and no longer call. If someone calls you for solar energy off that same bathroom remodel lead submission, even if they were listed as a fulfillment partner, that is a compliance violation under current law, yet it is common (bad) practice. That calling company is intentionally violating the law, or doing so out of ignorance, as unlike in say Canada, no U.S. Federal Agency provides guidance on how to be compliant, they only enforce mistakes.

      The problem with the rant above is every complaint is about bad actors…those who do not follow the current TSR or TCPA laws, resell data more than the number of times disclosed, sell and call on re-sold aged data, or call about random homeowner products because the consumer self-identified as a homeowner as one example. They call to sell services not specifically requested, which is not allowed under current law. Much like many proposed gun laws, the anticipated changes will punish every legitimate, compliant company that does it right, tin an attempt to stop bad actors who violate the law now, and will continue to violate the new laws if these proposed changes become implemented. These changes will only eliminate convenient consumer choice and the legitimate, compliant companies that do care about call compliance and the consumer experience. The bad actors who are already in violation of the law will continue their non-compliant practices unabated, and they will be the only marketing companies still standing. The problem will get worse, not better. The problem with law breakers, is they don’t care if they follow laws. But by all means, pass more laws that eliminate legitimate choices and give the bad actors the entire marketplace.

      Perhaps the FTC & FCC should focus on enforcing the more than adequate laws currently on the books, and eliminate these bad actors, rather than passing laws impossible for legitimate companies to comply with, that will kill tens of thousands of jobs and entire industries that do not have the wherewithal or national footprint to market their products for themselves. Lead generation drives our economy, creates untold high paying jobs, allows companies to market their goods and services without having that marketing expertise in-house. Trust me, most big companies are good at what they do, not what the lead industry does, which is driving sales opportunities. More laws will not stop those intent on ignoring them and abusing consumers. Only strong enforcement of the current and robust TSR and TCPA will stop these call abuses.

      1. The trouble with lead generators is that they are law breakers and don’t care if they follow the laws. Proof: I cannot remember the last time that I received a telemarketing call where the Caller ID number displayed was legitimate.

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