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TCPA Regulatory Update — Former Senate Candidate Seeks Declaratory Ruling on Ringless Voicemail

Perdue for Senate, Inc., the Senate campaign committee for former U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to issue a declaratory ruling asking the agency to clarify that delivering a voice message directly to a voicemail box through ringless voicemail (“RVM”) technology does not constitute a “call” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) or FCC rules.

In its Petition, Perdue for Senate argues that RVM technology is outside the scope of the TCPA and FCC prohibitions because RVM technology “does not make a ‘call’ to any telephone number assigned to a paging service, cellular telephone service or specialized mobile radio service or any other common carrier service;” RVM transmissions are not the functional equivalent of a call under the TCPA; RVM technology does not use wireless networks to send messages; and recipients are not billed for RVM messages. Perdue for Senate also argues that RVM messages do not “result in the same annoyance to consumers as traditional phone calls” since the recipient’s phone does not ring. Finally, the Petition notes that that RVM technology promotes non-profit “get-out-the-vote” efforts and can provide important election messages to potential voters without implicating the same privacy concerns as telemarketing calls.

Perdue for Senate is not the first entity to seek a Declaratory Ruling from the FCC on this issue. VoAPPs, Inc. in 2014 and All About the Message, LLC in 2017 each filed Petitions for Declaratory Ruling asking the FCC to declare that RVM transmissions do not violate the TCPA or Commission rules. In both instances the companies withdrew their petitions before the FCC ruled on them. Thus, as Perdue for Senate points out, this question remains open.

The FCC may request comment on the Petition but has not yet done so.


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Russell H. Fox is a wireless communications attorney at Mintz. He guides clients through federal legislative, regulatory, and transactional matters. Russell also participates in FCC proceedings, negotiates spectrum agreements, and represents clients in spectrum auctions.
Jonathan Garvin is an attorney at Mintz who focuses on legal challenges facing companies in the communications and media industries. He advises clients on transactional, regulatory, and compliance issues before the FCC involving wireless, broadband, broadcast, and cable matters.