As readers of TCPAWorld know, the FTC has gone full tilt in recent weeks.
First, they launched an aggressive telemarketing enforcement “sweep”–shaking loose of their traditional reluctance to pursue “regular” industry players as opposed to real bad guys–and put the entire industry on notice that TSR violations will not be tolerated.
But then they went and upped the stakes by entirely redefining what a TSR violation looks like. Specifically, the FTC took to its social media channels to declare that prerecorded calls to purchase leads are–and apparently always were–illegal, period.
While this has massive dimensions for the ongoing FCC NPRM proceeding, it also puts every company that has used a prerecorded call to contact a consumer in reliance on a purchased lead at risk of being pursued by the DOJ for a TSR violation, and that’s just crazy.
So the good folks Responsible Enterprises Against Consumer Harassment–R.E.A.C.H.–got together to discuss industry’s response.
For the uninitiated, R.E.A.C.H. is a group of consumer-friendly companies that want to stop unwanted calls from telemarketers by requiring consumers be fully informed–transparently and without any tricks or traps– before a consent is transferred to any company that might make phone calls to them. This will stop billions of calls a year caused by certain abusive conduct in the lead generation industry.
But R.E.A.C.H. also advocates for breathing space in the industry now that regulators are seemingly intent on shutting down comparison shopping websites altogether. This is a real “baby with the bathwater” situation and R.E.A.C.H. is working hard to make sure the consumer-friendly companies can stay in business even while the bad actors are exposed and shuttered.
The current thinking is that R.E.A.C.H. will seek a temporary retraining order (TRO) enjoining enforcement of the new FTC position–which is contrary to prior agency statements and was not adopted via any formal rulemaking–for 180 days to give industry a chance to react to the new rule. The TRO would also preclude retroactive enforcement of the provision as a violation of due process given the quasi criminal nature of TSR penalties.
The TRO would NOT declare the FTC’s policy position invalid–it would just protect industry participants from arbitrary and “springing” liability for conduct that was seemingly permissible at the time it was taken.
While the R.E.A.C.H. board is still evaluating its course, it is looking for industry’s view on this matter–i.e. YOURS!
If you are interested in helping industry to push back on the recent FTC action and otherwise joining with Responsible Enterprises to stop unwanted calls while protecting small businesses from excessive government overreach give us a shout or visit reachmbc.com to learn more.