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Insights Association Pushes FCC for Robocall White List

August 4 2017

New US research trade body the Insights Association (IA) has called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to adapt its definition of a 'robocall' to avoid penalising legitimate users, and back up the changes with a requirement for call blockers to consult a 'white list'.

Needed: a proper definition of robocallsTwo years ago the Commission approved proposals to restrict the use of autodiallers, despite the MRA's contention that the broad and vague definition used would 'seriously harm survey, opinion and marketing research conducted by phone'. The Insights Association - the result of MRA's merger with CASRO, filed comments on Monday asserting that just about any 'lawful' telephone call could be blocked under the current definition, and suggesting an amendment to it. The shortcomings of the 2015 Act are already causing headaches for research firms, including healthcare specialist M3 USA, on whose behalf the Association weighed in in May this year.

The Association has applauded the FCC for its willingness now to spell out the meaning of the term 'robocalls', which it says has 'never been defined in statute or regulation'. Instead the agency has 'made a habit of using the term as a general pejorative' for any unwanted calls. However the IA has also objected to the FCC's quarterly release of 'questionable' data from 'disparate and unverified consumer complaints' to call blocking firms, suggesting it will 'probably do more to disrupt legitimate dialing than to combat illegal robocalls'.

The IA also backed the use of a white list of legitimate dialers, to prevent them from being inadvertently blocked by automated services, stating: 'Whether the FCC chooses to establish a single white list for all providers, or to have providers keep their own white lists, voice service providers and call blocking service providers should be required to run origination numbers through that white list before blocking a number, and to regularly update both the white list and the numbers being blocked'. In support of this, vetting and updating processes for the white list or lists should be clearly set out by the FCC, and their operators should be required to honor update requests and challenges in a set (and limited) timeframe.

The IA's full comments can be viewed at www.insightsassociation.org/article/fcc-should-white-list-research-callers-insights-association-response-robocall-proposals .

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