NEWS21 August 2023

Legal calls could be blocked by US regulator, says insights industry body

Legal News North America Public Sector

US – Market research industry body the Insights Association has urged the Federal Communications Commission to ensure it does not block lawful research calling as part of its aims to deter illegal or nuisance calls.

Woman in call centre wearing ear phone device for calling

The FCC, which regulates US communications by radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable, is reviewing actions aimed at protecting consumers from illegal calls, including mandating call blocking.

The Insights Association, Gallup, Precision Opinion, ReconMR and the Professional Associations for Customer Engagement have called on the regulator not to require terminating (voice service) providers to implement analytics-based call blocking.

In a response to the FCC’s requests for comment, published on 9th August, the groups claim: “This would lead to the excessive and inappropriate blocking of lawful calls, exceed the Commission’s statutory authority, and run afoul of the First Amendment.”

If the FCC does introduce an analytics-based call blocking mandate, the agency should refrain from directing terminating providers to block calls based on low average call duration and other factors, the groups said, adding: “The Commission identified low average duration calls as encompassing ‘essential’ communications that should not be subject to greater hindrance than other voice traffic, and it should reaffirm this sound judgment.”

The joint comments also urged the FCC to “refrain from taking any action that would suggest its endorsement of labels that reflect a legal judgment, such as ‘scam likely’”.

The groups wrote: “These judgmental labels are often mistaken. As a result, they are harmful to consumers and law-abiding calling parties alike. Informative labels such as ‘telemarketing’ or ‘opinion poll’ are far more likely to be helpful to consumers and pose far less risk of harm to legitimate businesses.”