Still use a landline? Congratulations—you’re officially weird. According to the most recent report by the US Center for Disease Control National Health Information Survey, more than one-half of American homes (53.9%) are wireless-only homes.
That’s frankly a slimmer majority than I would expect. Keep in mind, however, that the NHIS is surveying all homes in the US, including homes belonging to people who never could quite figure out their way around this touchscreen doohickeys. By contrast, over 70% of American adults between the ages of 25 and 34 live in wireless-only households. Sorry boomers and Gen Xers, but the future—and present—is wireless.
So why has it taken so long for the Telephone Consumer Protection Act to catch up?
If you’re at all familiar with federal regulations in the 21st century, you already know the answer. But in case, well, you’re the kind of person who’s surprised people don’t use landlines anymore: technology these days moves faster—usually much, much faster—than legislation. Laws take years to write, debate, rewrite, and pass. And they laws change unless the government decides they no longer work, either on its own (a long process unto itself) or because someone comes along to successfully challenge a law in court.
Both scenarios recently occurred with regards to the TCPA. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission issued a “TCPA Omnibus Declaratory Ruling and Order,” which addressed these new-fangled “text messages” (unimaginable technology back when the law was passed in 1991) and broadened the definition of “autodialer.” Then, due to its controversially wide scope, the Order soon became the subject a legal battle, ACA International v. FCC.
That case, which wrapped up earlier this year, led regulators to make some fundamental changes to the TCPA—changes which auto lenders and consumer finance companies of all stripes should take note of. Auto Finance News reports:
“In its March 2018 ruling in ACA International v. FCC, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals—among other determinations and directives—ordered the FCC to reconsider its definition of an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) as laid out in the 2015 Omnibus Order. According to the court, the FCC’s expansive definition of an ATDS could be applied to a smartphone, thereby making almost all Americans potential TCPA violators based on everyday cell phone use.
As a result, the FCC was asked to clarify its guidance regarding the technology companies can use to communicate with borrowers, and what that communication can look like. All of this will have a major impact on TCPA cases and company liability.
The D.C. Circuit’s decision and resulting uncertainty have created an especially dynamic situation for vehicle finance companies, who must comply with strict limitations on how they can reach out to existing and potential customers on their cell phones while keeping tabs on the upcoming changes.”
Not sure how to prepare your organizations for the new TCPA rules? We’re here to help. If you have any questions about TCPA compliance in 2018, give our compliance experts a call. (And yes, we use landlines.)