By: Jeffrey Lapin
In a victory for consumers the co-sponsors of H.R. 3035 (The Mobile Information Caller Act of 2011) withdrew the bill from further consideration. The bill would have made significant changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the most significant of which would have permitted businesses, including debt collectors, to use automatic telephone dialing systems (auto-dialers; robodialers) to call a person’s cellular telephone regardless of whether the person had given “prior express consent” or even provided their cell phone number to these businesses. Opposition had been growing, both by the public and 48 state Attorneys General.
H.R. 3035 WITHDRAWN
H.R. 3035 was co-sponsored by Representatives Lee Terry (R-NE) and Edolphus Towns (D-NY). On December 14, 2011, they sent a joint letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, whose committee the bill had been referred to for consideration, requesting the bill essentially be killed. Here is the full text of their letter:
We would like to take this opportunity to thank you and Chairman Walden, for allowing the hearing to occur on the merits of HR 3035. The hearing really helped to bring to our attention the issue of out of date telecommunications policy and how we need to begin to modernize current law.
However, what we have learned is there is no hope for this legislation. We have heard from our constituents. They are concerned about what they believe will happen should this legislation become law. We have convened meetings with numerous consumer groups, as well as other organizations who have an interest in the legislation, but we have been unable to reach any kind of consensus on language that bans unwanted cell phone calls, while allowing calls that are consented to.
In an attempt to thread the needle and address the issues that have been brought before us, it is clear that this bill cannot be improved in a manner that will address the concerns of those involved. Therefore, we ask that HR 3035 not be advanced by the committee.
Thank you in advance for your consideration.
Edolphus “Ed” Towns
In an interview with the Omaha World Herald regarding the withdrawal of H.R. 3035, Congressman Terry stated: “We’re driving a stake through its heart. Dead. Done. Buried.” He added, that despite his efforts to make the bill more acceptable to consumer advocates and other legislators, “There was just no language where they would be comfortable and I could be assured that people wouldn’t receive unwanted calls,” and that it was clear that public perception of the bill was not good. (Source: Omaha World Herald: Terry kills robocalls bill).
VICTORY FOR CONSUMERS
The withdrawal of H.R. 3035 is victory for consumers as telemarketers and debt collectors cannot robodial their cell phones without express consent. Congressman’s Terry’s letters and comments indicate it was public perception, rather than political attacks, that swayed his decision to stop H.R. 3035. This shows that consumers can make a difference and everyone’s voice does still count.
Lapin Law Offices represents consumers harassed or abused by debt collectors and telemarketers under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and TCPA. You can learn more by calling us at 402-421-8033 or through our websites: Lapin Law Offices or StopBadCollectors.com.