A few weeks ago, Congress held hearings on whether or not the TCPA (the law that protects you from getting even more spam calls than you already get) needs to be amended because it’s too tough on big businesses. You heard that right: Congress can’t hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, or do much else, but they can hold hearings on whether or not to open up your cell phone to more spam.
The main lines of attack were predictable:
- “This violates our first amendment rights.”
- “It’s not fair we get sued for calling reassigned numbers. How should we know?”
- “Class actions are scary and damages add up, so rather than fight, we settle.”
Missing from this discussion, however, is that the TCPA does not prohibit all unsolicited calls to telephones. The TCPA prohibits telemarketing calls to landlines using a prerecorded voice, and calls to cellular telephones using an autodialer or a prerecorded voice, without express consent.
What this means is that if a company wants to call you with their iPhone, or with their rotary phone, or with any standard desk phone, it can do so. All the law prohibits is calls using a prerecorded voice or equipment that can automatically dial telephone numbers.
When you understand that, Big Corporate’s arguments above all get kind of silly.
- “The TCPA violates our first amendment right to make calls using an autodialer.”
- “It’s not fair we get sued for calling reassigned numbers. How should we know? Our autodialer doesn’t tell us.”
- “Class actions are scary and damages add up, so rather than fight, we settle. Because we used an autodialer and broke the law; otherwise, we’d show we didn’t use an autodialer, and would not have to settle.”
What Big Corporate’s arguments really amount to is “we want to eat our cake and have it too.” Big Corporate wants to use an autodialer which makes it easier for Big Corporate to hound you into purchasing its products, paying a debt, or paying someone else’s debt, but it does not want to deal with the risks that come with that convenience. Instead, it wants you to pay for their convenience in the form of increased invasions of your privacy, increased nuisance telephone calls, and usage of your cell phone minutes.
Instead of “If I want to use an autodialer, these are the risks I face, and here’s how I do it right” Big Corporate would rather say “If I want to use an autodialer, these are the risks consumers face, but it doesn’t matter, because they can’t do anything if I do it wrong.”
So the next time you hear Big Corporate or one of its sympathizers say how unfair the TCPA is, kindly remind them that they can avoid the TCPA altogether if they’d just stop using an autodialer.