NEWS1 November 2012

FCC finalises do-not-call registry of emergency numbers

Government North America

US — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finalised regulations to implement a new do-not-call registry of emergency service provider numbers which anyone using an autodialler would have to filter out, but has opted to ignore trade body concerns over access for sampling companies.

The regulations, which were first proposed in June, will now be enforced so that operators of automated dialling equipment will need to remove any number classified as a public safety answering point (PSAP), in line with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which forbids any form of automated dialling to any emergency telephone line.

The Marketing Research Association (MRA) had flagged this as “a new compliance burden” for telephone survey research and submitted a response to the proposal supporting the move, but raising some concerns on behalf of the industry.

In a blog post marking the finalisation of the FCC rules, Howard Fienberg, the MRA’s director of government affairs, said the association continues to support the new registry and “remain optimistic that the burden can be managed by the survey, opinion and marketing research profession, and that it will be more than outweighed by the ability to avoid significant liability.”

Fienberg noted that the FCC heeded the MRA’s advice to reject the idea of incorporating the new emergency lines registry into the existing telemarketing National Do Not Call registry and had delegated authority to the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau to modify requirements as necessary. He also pointed out that the FCC has agreed to give first-time violators an opportunity to rectify their mistakes and ensure it does not happen again.

However, the FCC did not heed the MRA’s concerns about registry access for sampling companies or to adopt a safe harbour from the prohibition on using autodiallers to contact registered PSAP numbers.

In response, the MRA says it will now seek clarification from FCC staff on how sampling companies can best handle compliance and how its members can work with Bureau staff to help with implementation issues and avoid penalties.