Thankfully, Marketing Industry Plan For 'Ringless Voicemail' Dies a Quiet Death...For Now

from the it's-our-god-given-right-to-annoy-you dept

So we've been talking the past month about a push by the marketing industry (a company by the name of "All About The Message," specifically) to exempt "ringless voicemail" from existing robocalling and privacy rules. Ringless voicemail lets a company leave a marketing or political message in your inbox without your phone ringing. But such technology is currently prohibited by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) , which prohibits such marketing efforts without the "prior express consent of the called party."

In its petition to the FCC (pdf), All About the Message tried to claim that the existing consumer protections on this front were "archaic," ringless voicemails shouldn't be included because they're not technically "calls," and that exempting ringless voicemail from these rules provided an "important public purpose:"

"A direct to voicemail service platform is not covered by the TCPA, and the use of direct to voicemail insertion technology does not “make a call” to a wireless phone number as contemplated by Section 227, of Title 47 of the U.S. Code. What is more, consumers are not charged for delivery of the voicemail communications. Further, from a broader policy perspective, the use of direct to voicemail technology serves an important public purpose. The act of depositing a voicemail on a voicemail service without dialing a consumers' cellular telephone line does not result in the kind of disruptions to a consumer’s life—dead air calls, calls interrupting consumers at inconvenient times, or delivery charges to consumers -- which the TCPA was designed to prevent.

The effort quickly then received the full-throated support of the US Chamber of Commerce, American Financial Services Association and the Republican National Committee, which in a supporting filing of its own (pdf) tried to claim that blocking this annoying effort would violate the First Amendment:

"Telephone outreach campaigns are a core part of political activism. 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. The Commission should tread carefully so as not to burden constitutionally protected political speech without a compelling interest.

The problem: at no point did any of these companies or organizations spend much time thinking about what consumers actually wanted, and they sure as hell didn't want their voicemail inboxes being filled up with spam. As a result, when the news wires began to issue reports on the ringless voicemail plan, consumers were quick to complain to the FCC and political leaders about the effort. All About the Message has since submitted a very short letter to the FCC stating they were pulling their petition from consideration, putting this latest attempt to annoy the hell out of you and your family to bed... for now.

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: marketing, ringless voicemail, voicemail
Companies: fcc

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Jun 2017 @ 6:38pm

    If they are so sure everyone would want these, why not make them opt in? Hell make all telemarketing opt in.

    They have the cash to pay for lobbying groups, why not to run a mail/web campaign to get permission? This would solve the whole but people want us to annoy them problem.

    I am disgusted with the push polling, "charities", political calls of all stripes. They made all of these loopholes, and color me shocked... people abuse them.

    Also it is shocking they tried to pretend that a sudden voicemail notification wouldn't disrupt people. There is an amazing scam now where they call and hang up after 1 ring. The missed call notification suckers some people into calling the number back to see who was calling... the number is routed through a system that charges more than we charge prisoners for calls.

    Its nifty they found a way to send voicemails without ringing our phones... shame they haven't put the same effort into ending Judy calling about my credit card or Microsoft telling me my computer warned them I had a virus or the IRS who need to be paid today or I go to jail...

    Want us to stop thinking your business is a shitty cesspool?
    Stop finding ways to get around the roadblocks people have setup to avoid you & end the loopholes that allow the worst of your kind to rip people off.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.