Database definition

Proposed Bill Could Expand ATDS Definition Under TCPA | Compliance point

[author:  Katie Trial]

On July 12, 2022, US Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Katie Porter (D-CA) introduced a bill called the Robotext Scam Prevention Act with US Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Danny Davis (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) and Shontel Brown (D-OH).

The bill is titled “HR8334 – To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the use of automated telephone equipment for sending unsolicited text messages and for other purposes” and can be found here. The bill would seek to specifically amend Section 227 of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 USC 227).

The bill would first amend the term “Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS)”,

OF: “Equipment having the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and dial these numbers.

TO: “Equipment having the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to call or send SMS; and automatically dial or send a text message to dial these numbers.

The bill would not prohibit situations where an automatic telephone dialing system is used to call or text a number held by a person who has consented to receive such calls/texts, as long as the caller/texter first checks the FCC’s database of reassigned phone numbers and determines the number had not been reassigned to a new person since consent was given.

The bill would also require the Federal Communications Commission to issue a rule, within 18 months of the law’s enactment, that “taking into account modern dialing practices and consumer preferences” to define the terms “automatically” , “dial”, “send”, and “charged for the call”, as used in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

How does this affect customer awareness?

Although the bill was only introduced for discussion, if passed, the ATDS definition would expand significantly to include more devices and potentially increase the increase in TCPA class action lawsuits. This could have a huge impact on any business that makes calls or sends text messages for marketing or sales, information or collection purposes.