Congressman Jerry McNerney

Representing the 9th District of California
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Congress Tells FCC: Don’t Tread On Dinnertime!

Jun 12, 2015
Press Release

Washington, DC – Every day, thousands of lunches, dinners and naps are ruined by unwanted sales calls. Soon, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will consider new rules they believe will allow these calls to blocked and avoided easier. Unfortunately, the changes they’re proposing may actually make harassing American families even easier.

With that in mind, Reps. Jerry McNerney (CA-09) and Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley, CA) wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, calling on them to update FCC and FTC rules to protect American consumers and families.

Reps. McNerney and Cárdenas were joined in this bipartisan effort by fellow members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla).

The Committee has jurisdiction over wide swaths of American interstate commerce, including the laws governing telephone solicitation.

“While… the FCC indicates the Commission intends to address some of these issues, we have concerns that this item may not provide sufficient guidance and would leave businesses still unsure how to comply with an outdated law in a time of modern technology,” members said in part of the letter.

Their concern is in the implementation and enforcement of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991 and the Do Not Call Registry.  These provisions are intended to protect consumers from the unwanted intrusion of telemarketing calls, including “robocalls.”

“American families juggle so much during the day. The last thing they need is an intrusive, unwanted robocall when sitting down for dinner,” said Congressman McNerney. “As technology improves and people communicate in new ways, I believe it is important that the laws meant to protect consumers are updated to meet the needs of new consumer behavior. We need to make sure that businesses are able to reach out to consumers in a manner that complies with the law without exposing people to further harassment.”   

“Americans have the right to not be harassed every moment of the day by someone trying to sell them something or, worse yet, trying to scam them,” said Cárdenas. “As a former small business owner, I understand the importance of talking to customers, and I appreciate the hard work that goes into selling a product. However, American families should be able to decide when they want to make a purchase, not be cold-called and badgered. I am happy to lead my colleagues from both sides of the aisle in an effort to help make that happen.”

Legal efforts have been successful over the years in curbing disruptions to consumers, but despite these successes, the rules have not kept pace with technology.

44 percent of American homes have only a wireless phone, an option that likely was never anticipated in 1991. As a result, some of the protections created by TCPA clearly need to be modernized to reconcile the law with the modern communications landscape.

TCPA complaints continue to top the charts at the FCC with more than 200,000 consumer complaints filed in 2014. FTC data is similarly alarming, with more than 1.7 million robocall complaints over the last year.

It’s time for Congress to step up to the plate and save dinnertime, and the rest of the day, from these scammers and unwanted calls.

CLICK HERE to read the letter.