AT&T has sued the Federal Communications Commission to force the agency to release records it is using to prove AT&T violated consumer company-specific no-call requests, which could result in a $780,000 fine for the company.
In a statement released late Feb. 17, AT&T said the FCC had refused to disclose more than 1,000 pages of information requested by AT&T under the Freedom of Information Act. AT&T further accused the FCC of smearing its name while drumming up positive press for itself.
According to AT&T, the agency is using the withheld information to back up its claim that AT&T called 29 consumers who requested no more calls on 78 occasions.
The records are necessary to vindicate AT&T, Len Cali, AT&T vice president for law and director of federal government affairs, said in a statement. And the FCC did not give a reason for its denial of access to the records, further hampering AT&T's right to defend against the complaints.
An FCC spokeswoman said the agency would have no comment.
The documents withheld by the FCC represent 95 percent of the documents AT&T requested, the company said. The documents that AT&T was able to acquire showed that the complaints were “in many cases the product of incomplete and inaccurate investigative work,” Cali said.
AT&T has no record of receiving no-call requests from two-thirds of the 78 violations the FCC has cited, the company said. Many of the complaints arose from “factual errors” by the FCC and “inconclusive claims,” according to AT&T.
AT&T said that it “does not understand the FCC's motives in raising the allegations, particularly as part of a press campaign apparently designed to garner favorable publicity for the FCC while tarnishing AT&T's name and practices in the marketplace.”
The FCC filed its complaint against AT&T in November. It was the first time the agency had proposed a fine for violating company-specific no-call rules, which preceded the national no-call list and still apply.
The company-specific no-call rules took effect in 1992 with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The FCC said it began an investigation into AT&T's calling practices after it received more than 300 consumer complaints in the few months prior to the announcement of the fine.
AT&T's Government Solutions business unit is the contractor employed by the Federal Trade Commission to provide the technology infrastructure to support the national no-call registry.