Last week, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai issued a press release discussing the proposed reassigned number database (database). The day after this release, the FCC issued its Second Report and Order regarding the database, including the text of the final rule in Appendix A.
The report discusses the overwhelming support for creating a reassigned number database from the two comment periods following its first and second notice on the issue. The report mentions that some commenters suggested that the FCC focus on TCPA clarity post-ACA Int’l. v. FCC before focusing on the reassigned number database, but the FCC declined to wait. The FCC also mentioned that the database will be used to “supplement, not supplant” other currently-available commercial options.
The report discusses issues such as an aging period, the database’s contents, how caller queries will be performed, and database costs and administration.
The aging period refers to the amount of time between when a number is permanently disconnected and reassigned. While there already existed a maximum aging period (4 months for toll free numbers, 90 days for other numbers), there was no minimum aging period. A minimum aging period would allow time for callers to learn if a number is reassigned. Splitting the recommended aging period from the comments down the middle, the FCC established a minimum aging period of 45 days.
Database Contents and Queries
The FCC noted that the database will practice “data minimization.” The only information required to be reported is the date of a number’s most recent permanent disconnection. According to the report, commenters to the two notices stated the date of most recent permanent disconnection is more useful to them than the date of reassignment. The FCC declined to allow the database to store more information such as names and addresses.
In order to protect consumer privacy and providers’ commercially sensitive information, caller queries into the database will return limited information. To run a query, the caller will provide a specific phone number and date (which ideally should be the date of last contact with the consumer at this number). The only information the query will return is an answer of “yes,” “no,” or “no data” as to whether the number has been permanently disconnected since the date provided. The database will support both low-volume and high-volume queries so companies of all sizes can utilize it.
Editor’s Note: In the debt collection context, the date provided in the query would likely be either the date of last contact or the date the account was placed with the debt collector.
All callers who use the database will need to certify the purpose for which they are using it. The database will include both regular and toll-free numbers.
Database Administration and Costs
The database will be administered by an independent third party administrator chosen in a competitive bidding process. The FCC stated that it will not seek Congressional funding for the database. Instead, the costs will be recovered from usage fees.