$280 million verdict against Dish for violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), the Telemarketing Act, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Act, and several state telemarketing laws. The claims under all of these Acts are related to the same basic underlying conduct: placing robocalls to consumers without consent. The verdict is the largest fine ever assessed under the TCPA or the FTC Act. It comes a day after the Federal Trade Commission finalized settlements with 18 defendants who had participated in a robocalling operation peddling fake debt relief services. All of this comes while the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been considering new rules to allow telecommunications carriers to block robocalls and to allow some messages to be sent directly to customers’ voicemail.
Free State Foundation held its ninth annual Telecom Policy Conference, a must-attend event that consistently generates excellent discussion by leading policymakers (and the occasional academic) before capacity crowds. One hot topic this year was the BROWSER Act of 2017, a data privacy bill introduced by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) who chairs the House subcommittee covering telecom issues. While conference participants discussed the nuances of the bill, they were too polite, or too politically savvy, to ask the most puzzling question about the bill: Why would a conservative Republican with a deregulatory worldview propose such an onerous, European-style regulatory regime on the internet, particularly after faulting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for taking similar action only a month ago?