"Given that compliance-minded organizations in a variety of sectors are being dragged into court and strong-armed into large settlements on an almost daily basis" based upon the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), "for actions that do not remotely threaten the privacy interests that the statute was intended to protect, regulatory relief by the Commission is desperately required."

On February 2, the Marketing Research Association (MRA) joined with more than 30 other associations in asking for clarification from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) "to help curb abusive lawsuits that likely harm consumers overall."

TCPA lawsuits and class actions are a growing threat for the survey, opinion and marketing research profession. "TCPA litigation grew by 560% between 2010 and 2014," our joint letter states.

MRA has also been kept abreast of multiple suits (and class actions) against research companies in the last couple of years, including the most recent class action against RTI International, an MRA member.

The joint letter continues: "The defendants in these cases are no longer just the telemarketers that Congress targeted; they are businesses, big and small alike, forced to choose between settling the case or spending significant money defending an action where the alleged statutory damages may be in the millions, or even billions, of dollars. Further, many of these companies are being sued for reasons outside of their control, such as dialing a number provided by a customer that was later reassigned to another party."

The FCC has dozens of petitions for TCPA clarification sitting before it, most of them revolving around questions like what properly constitutes an automatic telephone dialing system (autodialer) or when a caller is responsible for a respondent having changed their number.

"We urge the Commission to modernize its TCPA implementation by providing commonsense clarifications and necessary reforms to facilitate the delivery of time-sensitive consumer information to mobile devices while continuing to protect consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls," the joint letter concludes.