On February 2, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Press Release to announce that FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel proposed an action, that if adopted by the full commission, would require a company to obtain consent before leaving a ringless voicemail for a consumer. Under the Chairwoman's proposal, ringless voicemails would be considered "calls" requiring prior express consent.
The proposal is in response to a March 2017 petition filed by All About the Message, Inc. (AAM), in which AAM asked the FCC to exempt ringless voicemails from anti-robocall rules. AAM's petition opined that delivering a voice message directly to a consumer's voicemail box is not a "call" subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act's (TCPA) general prohibition against the use of auto-dialers or pre-recorded voice messages (absent appropriate consent). The FCC sought comment in April 2017; however, AAM withdrew the petition in June 2017.
"Ringless voicemail can be annoying, invasive, and can lead to fraud like other robocalls—so it should face the same consumer protection rules," said Chairwoman Rosenworcel. "No one wants to wade through voicemail spam, or miss important messages because their mailbox is full. This FCC action would continue to empower consumers to choose which parties they give permission to contact them."
The FCC Press release does not indicate why FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel is championing this cause nearly five years after AAM filed (and withdrew) its petition. We'll provide updates if and when the FCC issues guidance on this issue.