Scenario: you try to access your voicemail messages on your cell number and, instead of messages from people you know, the inbox is stuffed with telemarketing SPAM.
That scenario is about to become a reality, if a recent petition to the FCC is ruled in favor of the petitioners. The petition asks the FCC to rule that
"the delivery of a voice message directly to a voicemail box does not constitute a call that is subject to the prohibitions on the use of an automatic telephone dialing system...or an artificial or prerecorded voice that are set forth in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act."
That act, passed in 1991, makes it illegal for both telemarketers and political parties to place calls to a cell phone unless the owner of that cell phone has provided written permission.
That's why your cell phone (unlike your land line) isn't swamped all the time with telemarketers and robo-calls.
Anyway, if the FCC approves the petition, your voicemail inbox will almost immediately be stuffed with telemarketing SPAM. And, unlike email SPAM, there will be no way to filter it out.
Needless to say, I was curious about who was responsible for this wretched, horrible idea.
Well, the FCC petition is from a Florida-based lawyer representing a company called All About The Message, LLC. That company may be a fictitious busines, though, since the website cited on the petition, abtmessage.com, is currently parked at Godaddy and the Florida Division of Corporations doesn't list the company as incorporated in that state.
Curiously, the principals for All About The Message give only their first names in the FCC filing: "Chris" and "Scott". I would guess from this apparent reluctance to provide their full names means that "Chris" and "Scott" are hoping to remain anonymous.
Fortunately, the filing does provide telephone numbers for the due, which of course I called.
Chris's number went into his voicemail, which provided enough information for me to identify him as Chris Blaylock, president of a marketing firm that bills itself as a provider of "Ringless Voicemail for Auto Dealers." Here's his photo:
The number for "Scott" went straight to an anonymous voice mail box. However, a search on the phone number got me to a ConstantContact page page which contained his photo:
A Google Image search on the photo reveals that he's Scott Clark, who in his LinkedIn profile describes himself as "President of Scott Clark Consulting," located in Charlotte, NC. (All About The Message wasn't registered in North Carolina, either.)
Interestingly, it appears from the ConstantContact page that Blaylock and Clark may already conducting ringless voicemail marketing in the Naples/Fort Myers area, even though it's apparently against FCC regulations.
Of course, these two are such obviously bit players that it's hard not to wonder whether they're a front for some other organization. According to Slate, the petition has the backing of the Republican National Committee, which has been trying to weaken consumer protections for cell phones.
Still, Blaylock and Clark are identified (if somewhat obscurely) as the geniuses behind the FCC petition, so...
As I already pointed, the telephone numbers for Chris and Scott are on their ConstantContact page and (just in case they delete that page) also on the FCC petition (their phone numbers are about ¾ of the way down).
Feel free to leave them a few voice mail messages.
I'm sure they'll appreciate the irony.