Federal Communications Bar Association Hosts TCPA and TSR Program in Washington, D.C.

On February 15, 2018, leaders from the government and private practice came together to discuss the current TCPA and TSR legal and compliance landscape, as well as where the FCC and FTC are likely to direct their efforts going forward.  The Federal Communications Bar Association’s Privacy and Data Security Committee assembled two tremendous panels to discuss these hot-button issues.

The first panel was titled “Steps the FCC Is (or Should Be) Taking to Address Unwanted Robocalls.”  The discussion focused on an overview of recent FCC activities, including enforcement actions, as well as its current holding pattern in anticipation of the D.C. Circuit’s ruling in the appeal of the Commission’s July 2015 Declaratory Ruling and Order.  The first item noted was that no one in the room could offer clarity on exactly when the D.C. Circuit would issue its ruling.  The panelists also touched on pending petitions and where the FCC would likely be focusing under the new leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai.  The panel was moderated by Claude Aiken (Legal Advisor to FCC Commissioner Clyburn) and included Mark Stone (Deputy Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at the FCC), Kristi Thompson (Deputy Chief, Telecommunications Consumers Division, Enforcement Bureau at the FCC), Kevin Rupy (Vice President of Law and Policy at USTelecom), Leah Dempsey (Senior Director of Advocacy and Counsel at the Credit Union National Association) and Hassan Zacareei (a partner at Tycko & Savareei, a plaintiffs’ TCPA firm).

The second panel was titled “What to Expect from Congress, the FTC and the Courts on the TCPA Front in 2018.”  Panelists touched on what measures might be taken in the government and how private litigants can potentially challenge the abusive TCPA litigation environment.  They also discussed what companies are doing to ensure compliance with the TCPA under the current rules.  This panel was moderated by John Heitmann (Partner at Kelley Drye & Warren LLP) and included Drinker Biddle’s own Laura Phillips (Chair of Drinker’s Government and Regulatory Affairs Practice Group and past President of the FCBA), Matthew Brill (Chair of the Communications Group at Latham & Watkins LLP), Jeff Johnson (Associate at Jones Day) and Will Maxson (Associate Director of the Division of Marketing Practices at the FTC).

This program included a robust Q&A with an audience of attorneys from the government and private practice.  It was clear from the discussion that the many issues posed by the TCPA, the FCC’s implementing rules, and litigation activity continue to be front-and-center at the FCC.  It also remains top-of-mind for plaintiffs’ attorneys seeking to leverage the statutory damages calculus, and a challenge for companies seeking to navigate compliance while continuing to effectively communicate with their customers.