Republicans Want 'Ringless Voicemail' to Fill Your Inbox with Ads
The Republican National Committee hopes the FCC will approve a request from a marketing firm that would allow companies and organizations to silently send messages straight to consumers' cellphone voicemail inboxes. Such voicemails could be prerecorded political messages or even advertisements. The so-called "ringless voicemail" idea has been on the FCC's docket since March, when a marketing firm called All About the Message LLC asked the agency to approve its technology. All About the Message says its tech shouldn't be governed by robocalling regulations because it technically doesn't even qualify as phone calls. Moreover, the firm argues it won't interrupt consumers with automatic, robotic, dead-air phone calls at inconvenient times — behaviors that have helped define robocalls and the laws keeping them in check. The RNC supports All About Message's technology and suggested the FCC approve it lest political parties' First Amendment rights be trampled. "Political organizations like the RNC use all manner of communications to discuss political and governmental issues and to solicit donations — including direct-to-voicemail messages," said the RNC to the FCC in paperwork filed last week. "The Commission should tread carefully so as not to burden constitutionally protected political speech without a compelling interest." Consumer advocacy groups, including the National Consumer Law Center, say the change would amount to inbox pain for consumers. "I think it's unfortunate that there's a push by any political party to reduce the protections in [the robocall rules] for cellphones," said the NCLC's Margot Freeman Saunders in a statement provided to Recode. Saunders believes robocalls are one of many factors behind consumers' growing abandonment of landlines. Taking away the current rules could leave people "completely overwhelmed by messages" that cannot be prevented from filling their inboxes. The Democrats have not taken a side on the matter.
Facebook and Twitter Put Political Ad Policies Into Effect
Two of the largest social networks are doing more to call out political advertisements. Both Facebook and Twitter today outlined their new policies, which should increase the visibility of ads that are purchased for political purposes.
FCC Adopts Strong Anti-Robocall Rules
The FCC today adopted a set of rules proposed in May that make it harder for telemarketers and others to place unwanted calls or send unwanted messages to wireless phones. The new laws provide clarity for businesses and consumers on when robocalls and other phone-based outreach is permitted.
FCC Says Lyft Violated Robo-Call Rules
The FCC today cited Lyft for violating rules meant to prevent companies from using autodialers and other automated tools to call or message consumers. According to the FCC, Lyft's terms of service mandates that all customers agree to receive marketing messages.
FCC Moves to Better Protect Against Unwanted Calls
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler today circulated a new proposal for taming unwanted robocalls and text messages to mobile phones. According to the FCC, the proposal is a response to more than a dozen petitions seeking clarity on when robocalls and other phone-based outreach is permitted.