FCC Fines Robocalling Platform $2.88 M

Over the dissent of FCC Commissioner Mike O’Rielly, the FCC today imposed a $2.88 million fine against Dialing Services LLC for “facilitating” unlawful robocalls. Commissioner O’Rielly argued that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s provisions against unauthorized robocalls apply to entities that actually place calls, whereas Dialing Services provided technology and services to customers that actually made the calls.

He said that he did “not have sufficient confidence that some of the allegations [made against Dialing Services] are correct.”  He added that the Commission “seeks to punish a technology and its operator,” rather than the companies making the unauthorized calls.  He said that the technology offered by Dialing Services could be put to legitimate uses, which “opens a huge can of worms.”

Commissioner O’Rielly also said he was concerned about the precedential value of the action, saying that “the guidance provided by this item will affect other technology platforms.”

Chairman Ajit Pai said that although Dialing Services “may not have physically placed the calls itself,” it offered a spoofing function to disguise the origin of the calls and helped its customers craft their messages to hide their real purpose.

The Chairman also pledged that today’s action, which follows a proposal last month to impose a $120 million fine on another alleged robocaller (TR Daily, June 22), “will not be the last” FCC action against “the scourge” of robocallers.

In a press release, the FCC said, “The Commission has made clear that a third party, such as a platform provider, may be liable under the TCPA if the platform provider is so involved in the placement of a call that it essentially made the call.”  It added that Dialing Services’ platform “automatically blocks the originating telephone number and enables Caller ID spoofing.”

The fine imposed was reduced slightly from the $2.944 million proposed in a 2014 notice of apparent liability (TR Daily, May 8, 2014), in light of the company’s presentation of evidence that it had authorization for four of the 184 unauthorized calls that the NAL said had apparently been made after Dialing Services was warned to stop facilitating calls by its customers in violation of the TCPA. —Lynn Stanton, lynn.stanton@wolterskluwer.com

Courtesy TRDaily