The Regulatory Mix, TMI’s daily blog of regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court, issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of a TMI Regulatory Bulletin.
Following the President’s January 28, 2014, State of the Union Address, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issued the following statement on the E-Rate Program:
“Harnessing the power of digital technology is central to improving our education system and our global competitiveness. In the Internet age, every student in America should have access to state-of-the art educational tools, which are increasingly interactive, individualized and bandwidth-intensive. The Federal Communications Commission shares the President’s commitment to seizing the opportunities of digital learning, which is why we’ve already launched an effort to modernize our successful E-Rate program – the nation’s largest education technology program. By applying business-like management practices to E-Rate, we can take steps this year that will make existing funds go farther to significantly increase our investment in high-speed broadband connectivity for schools and libraries for the benefit of our students and teachers. Together, with my fellow Commissioners, Congress, educators and other stakeholders, we can ensure that all of America’s students get a 21st-century education.”
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Petition
The FCC is asking for comment on a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA). The Petition seeks clarification on certain aspects of the TCPA prior written consent rules that became effective October 16, 2013. Comments are due by February 21, 2014; reply comments are due by March 10, 2014.
RILA argues that the TCPA does not apply to on-demand text service because these communications: (1) are initiated by the consumer, not a telemarketer; (2) are isolated, one-time messages sent immediately in response to a consumer’s specific request; and (3) contain only the specific information requested by the consumer. Nevertheless, it asks the FCC to “make the narrow declaration that when an on-demand text has the specific characteristics described above, obtaining prior express written consent under the TCPA is not required.”
“On-demand text services” provide one-time replies to consumer requests for offers via text message. For example, a consumer might respond to a retailer’s “call-to-action” display by texting “discount” to the retailer which replies by texting a coupon to the consumer. RILA notes that the reply text sent to the consumer does not include marketing material unrelated to the information specifically requested by the consumer and no additional offers are sent in response to the consumer-initiated text request. The FCC seeks comment on the issues raised in the Petition.