FCC Says Government Contractors Subject to Robocall Restrictions

December 14, 2020

A new FCC ruling recognizes that government contractors and local governments are subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, the law that restricts robocalls. The new ruling reverses a 2016 ruling that excluded federal contractors from the TCPA's requirements. The FCC reasoned in 2016 that, because the federal government is not subject to the law, its contractors also are not. Following the 2016 ruling, the National Consumer Law Center petitioned the FCC to reconsider. EPIC joined the petition. The new FCC ruling follows the recommendation of consumer groups and holds that Congress never intended to exclude government contractors and local governments from the law. The Commission concluded that including government contractors in the law increases the "effectiveness of TCPA privacy right protections." The FCC also noted that the TCPA is a consumer protection statute, and any ambiguity should be interpreted "to the benefit of the consumer." The Supreme Court is currently considering another ambiguity in the TCPA: the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system. The Court heard oral arguments in the case last week. A decision is expected next spring.

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