As is customary with a change of US Executive Branch administration, the current FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will be stepping down in January. Soon to follow, two FCC director positions will come up for appointment in May. The remaining two positions will be up for appointment within the next four years, giving president-elect Trump the opportunity to assemble FCC leadership who are likely to support reform.
Trump has long been opposed to Net Neutrality, which was Wheeler’s signature legislation that was less than popular. Two of his transition team advisors, Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison are also opponents of network neutrality, as is current Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai. Pai, speaking at the tenth anniversary of the Free Stat Foundation on Dec. 7th, suggested that the time has come to “fire up the weed-whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation and job creation”.
While Net Neutrality is the rallying point for reform, there is a strong possibility that TCPA regulations will also be in the line of fire as the president-elect has a dog in the fight. The Trump campaign committee is currently challenging the FCC over the TCPA on the First Amendment grounds in Thorne v. Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., a lawsuit stemming from the campaign’s use of text messaging.
Two plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against the campaign committee—in the same Chicago, IL court that previously approved the largest TCPA settlement in history (Capital One Financial Group paid $75.5 million to settle)—alleging that they had never given consent to receive text messages from the campaign. The lawsuit also contends that thousands of other people may have received the message from the Trump Campaign without expressed consent.
What transpires next around the TCPA will be interesting. Stay tuned.