Photo Courtesy of FCC
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
By Forum Staff
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer this week sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai urging the panel to reject a new spam method called ‘ringless voice mail’ technology, which would allow telemarketers to inundate a person’s voicemail box without letting the phone ring.
Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted that under a new federal rule change petition submitted by a ringless voice mail provider, the FCC would exempt ringless voice mail technology from federal ‘Do Not Call’ regulations. Schumer said that if the FCC goes along with this petition, millions of consumers could see their voicemail inboxes flooded with messages from annoying telemarketers, some who may be trying to scam the individual. Schumer on Monday urged the FCC to deny this request and side with the consumers. The FCC is currently collecting public comments on this petition regarding ringless voice mail technology.
“With billions of robocalls made to cell phones each year, the feds should be doing more to reign in annoying telemarketers, not throw gas on the problem and add fuel to cell-phone spam,” Schumer said. “If ringless voice mail technology is exempt from federal regulations, consumers could see their voice mail boxes inundated with unimportant messages, confusing consumers and making it harder or even impossible to get real messages. That’s why I am urging the FCC to deny any request that would allow for more telemarketing messages and side with the consumers.”
New York’s senior senator also noted that ringless voice mail technology involves a process by which telemarketers use technology software to transfer voicemails to individuals using service-to-service technology. With this technology, the phone being called doesn’t ring, but rather receives an alert that they have received a voicemail message. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, calls made using an autodialer or pre-recorded voice are prohibited without the express prior consent of the individual being called. However, Schumer said, telemarketers feel that their technology should be exempt from the TCPA because ringless voice mails do not make actual phone calls.
According to YouMail, a robocall blocking service and data aggregator, there were 2.6 billion robocalls in May 2017. Atlanta is the number one area affected by robocalls. New York City’s “917” area code ranked number six in May 2017 on the list of top robocall affected area codes. New York City’s “347” area code ranked number seven on that same list. In total, these two NYC area codes were targeted by an estimated 56 million robocalls in May 2017. According to Youmail, Nassau County’s “516” area code received a total of 12.5 million robocalls in May 2017 and Suffolk County’s “631” area code received a total of 8.6 million robocalls in May 2017. All in all, in May alone, the the five boroughs and Long Island market saw over 76 million robocalls.
“As policymakers, what we should be doing is finding ways to make current law stronger and tighter; the government should not begin to contemplate allowing new and different ways for consumers to be overwhelmed by unwanted messages,” Schumer wrote in his missive to Pai.