FCC Adopts Second Report and Order in the Methods to Target and Eliminate Robocalls Proceeding

On December 12, 2018, the Commission adopted the Second Report and Order in the Methods to Target and Eliminate Robocalls proceeding in the December Open Meeting (CG Docket No. 17-59). The Order establishes a single, comprehensive database (the “Database”) that will contain reassigned number information from each provider that obtains North American Numbering Plan (“NANP”) U.S. geographic numbers, and will enable any caller to verify whether a telephone number has been reassigned before calling that number. The Order adopts a minimum aging period of 45 days before any permanently disconnected telephone numbers can be reassigned.

The adopted Order adds a new section from the draft Order, outlining a safe harbor from TCPA liability for callers that rely on the reassigned numbers database to learn if a number has been reassigned. Callers that wish to avail themselves to the safe harbor must demonstrate that they appropriately checked the most recent update of the database, and the database reported “no” that the consumer could still be reached at that number. The safe harbor shields the caller from liability should the database return an inaccurate result, assuming the caller can prove they did in fact check the database. The Commission declined to extend the aging period beyond the adopted 45-day mark and to other commercial databases. Additionally, the adopted Order included a new section on database usage costs to the Costs and Benefits section, adding that the maximum potential volume of calls using the new database service is approximately 21 billion per year with an estimated 2.5 billion queries per year.

The adopted Order also removes language that this item is effective upon release. Sections requiring OMB approval will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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