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FCC Imposes Data Collection Rule on Relay Service Providers

Interim regulations are now effective

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission now requires communications relay service providers to collect information from users and forward that information—along with other data—to the FCC in order to receive payment.
On March 7, the FCC posted a Federal Register notice—Misuse of Internet Protocol Captioned Telephone Service; Telecommunications Relay Services and Speech-to-Speech Services for Individuals With Hearing and Speech Disabilities—that says the White House Office of Management and Budget has approved an interim rule requiring communications relay service providers to provide the information. The interim rule became effective the same day as the notice and is effective until Sept. 3.
The FCC says there is “good cause” to adopt on an emergency basis interim rules requiring each Internet protocol captioned telephone service provider to register each new user of their services, as well as collect from users information from each. The information that has to be collected includes:

  • That the user has a hearing loss that necessitates the use of IP relay services.
  • That the user understands the captioning service is provided by a live communications assistant.
  • That the user understands that IP relay service calls are paid for by the Telecommunications Relay Services Fund.
  • That when a user accepts IP relay service equipment at a price below $75 from any source other than a governmental program, the relay service provider must also obtain from the user a certification from an independent, third-party professional attesting to the same.

The FCC takes this action to prevent the unnecessary subscription to and use of the service by consumers without a hearing loss. “If left unchecked,” the TRS Fund that disburses to IP relay service providers may be compromised due to an unprecedented growth in relay service users, the FCC says. Therefore, the interim rule enables better control over the level of TRS disbursements, according to the FCC. Failing to take immediate action to stem such practices could well threaten the availability of the IP relay services that are supported by the fund for the benefit of legitimate users, the commission adds.
Click here to access the Federal Register notice.