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Is the use of the Avatar technology in the U.S. illegal (Robocalls)?
by Rudolf Faix Tuesday, September 1, 2015 7:36 AM

FTC RobocallsIf the main and only purpose of the software an illegal action then this software is illegal. In the case of the Avatar system is service legal because at the site from the Federal Trade Commission are listed a few cases where Robocalls are allowed:

Some prerecorded messages are permitted — for example, messages that are purely informational. That means you may receive calls to let you know your flight’s been cancelled, reminders about an appointment, or messages about a delayed school opening. But the business doing the calling isn’t allowed to promote the sale of any goods or services. Prerecorded messages from a business that is contacting you to collect a debt also are permitted, but messages offering to sell you services to reduce your debt are barred.

Other exceptions include political calls and calls from certain health care providers. For example, pharmacies are permitted to use prerecorded messages to provide prescription refill reminders. Prerecorded messages from banks, telephone carriers and charities also are exempt from these rules if the banks, carriers or charities make the calls themselves.

As you see in the above statement are legal and illegal purposes for Robocalls available. Illegal is this technology for making business (promoting any goods or services) in the United States of America. That the Avatar technology is a Robocall technology gets found out by reading the judgement from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Houston Division, Civil Action No. H-13-2777, Case 4:13-cv-02777 from January 28, 2014 (.pdf). In this case Flowroute got sued to conspire with Avatar because: "Flowroute’s VoIP services, and employing Flowroute’s Calling Name Management Service ('CNAM-MS') to alter the caller’s identification as it appeared on Plaintiff’s cellular phone." Like expected had this case a positive end for Flowroute. The same way like Flowroute is Avatar only a service provider and is not responsible for the misusage of their products from their customers.

At Federal Trade Commission - Consumer Information - What to do if you get a Robocall explains the FTC attorney Kati Daffan in here video and in the first paragraph of the transcription what is a Robocall:

If you have a telephone, robocalls may be ruining your day. I'm Kati Daffan, an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded message instead of a live person, it's a robocall. If the recording is a sales message and you haven't given your written permission to get calls from the company on the other end, the call is illegal period.

Playing pre-recorded messages or compile manually pre-recorded messages live will remain to be a prerecorded material and is never the same like speaking to a live person. There is no way to foresee all possibilities during a call. For this reason a live speaking agent cannot get replaced.

A short description of the Avatar system is that a call center agent is playing prerecorded messages to the called ones. The messages are getting selected depending on the answers from the called ones. With other words the called one does not speak with a real agent and for some questions are even no prerecorded answers available. Only if the called one is interested in the offer he gets transferred to a real person. One agents handles normally two calls at the same time. I think everybody knows the result of mulittasking.

Avatar is promoting their services as "Lead Generation without the accent". From my own experience and from the experience of my customers is it in the German speaking area of Europe (Austria, Germany and a part of Switzerland) not important to speak without an accent to make a sale. Much more important is it to adjust your own communication within splits of a second to the same level as your presumptive customer is using. A joke during the communication at the right time can be an ice breaker. This cannot get done by using prerecorded messages. Already the first impression a sales person is making can lead to a good business or to a total loss.

Avatar Technologies Phl, Inc. is providing their services only B2B and for this reason they need not warn about the misusage of their product. From business owners is it expected that they know the law in their country and in the country they are serving. For a consumer are the offered services not from any interest. For this reason they need not warn them about the illegal use of their products.

The FTC is challenging the DEF CON community to create a tool that people can use to block and forward unwanted robocalls automatically. Forwarded calls will go to a honeypot — a data collection system that researchers and investigators can use to study the calls. See the contest descriptions and the winners of the 2015 Robocalls: Humanity Strikes Back Contest.

Look at the videos where an attorney from the FTC explains the illegal Robocalls.

Clark-et-al.-v-Avatar-Technologies-Phl-Inc.-et-al.-Decision.pdf (128.96 kb)

 

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I'm since more then 35 years in the computer business (programming and technical support) and using the Internet since it has started. Since 2002 I'm programming solutions for Asterisk and since 2004 I'm in the call center industry.

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