FCC Kicks Off Rulemaking for TCPA Penalty Exemption

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By Lydia Beyoud

May 4 — The Federal Communications Commission voted May 4 to begin a rulemaking proceeding on exempting robocalls to collect federal debt from penalties under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, according to an agency spokesman.

The text of the notice of proposed rulemaking is expected to be released soon, the official said.

The NPRM includes a comment and reply comment period of just 30 and 15 days, respectively, in order to meet the statutorily mandated deadline for implementing the provision by Aug. 2, according to the spokesman.

The proposal is expected to try to strike a balance between consumer protections and a congressional directive slipped into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 to allow companies servicing federally-issued student loans or mortgages to use autodialers to contact debtors without the need for consumer consent.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler circulated draft proposed rules Feb. 17 .

Robocalls are a primary subject of consumer complaints to the FCC. The commission voted June 18, 2015 to tighten rules on unwanted robocalls and spam texts in a controversial order that practitioners predicted would cause TCPA-related litigation to increase .

To contact the reporter on this story: Lydia Beyoud in Washington at lbeyoud@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com