Congress Considering HANGUP Act One Last Time

They’re at it again. After the bill previously failed to muster the votes necessary to pass, Congressional Democrats–this time apparently working with Republicans–are looking to close the “loophole” authorizing calls on government backed debt.  

The cleverly titled bill Help Americans Never Get Unwanted Phone calls, AKA the “HANGUP Act,” is bad news for federal debt collectors and government contractors currently exempted from the TCPA’s robocall provisions.  The Act seeks to remove the exemption and hold the government to the same general provisions of the TCPA requiring consent for any autodialed or prerecorded calls to a cell phone.

The federal government and its contractors have enjoyed a break from the TCPA thanks to a 2015 bipartisan budget agreement that included a small provision allowing them to use robocalling technology to collect debts owed to the U.S.  The FCC followed suit in 2016 with the Broadnet et al. Declaratory Ruling.  In that ruling, the FCC determined that government callers are not “persons” and are thus not subject to the TCPA.  The HANGUP Act would repeal both the FCC’s ruling and the relevant provision in the 2015 budget agreement.

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