December 19, 2013

Court Defers to FCC for Clarification of TCPA; Asks for Definition of Autodialer related to Transmission of Text Messages

Since the FCC enacted revisions to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in October, several organizations have filed petitions with the FCC asking for clarification as to what constitutes automatic telephone dialing system under the new regulations. Those petitions were recently joined by a referral from a state court regarding how new restrictions on auto dialers will impact text message marketing campaigns.

The Southern District of Texas court granted a motion to stay proceedings on a TCPA class action lawsuit pending a referral to the FCC as to whether text messages, which are considered calls under the TCPA, are distributed by an automated dialing system.

The defendant in the case argues that text messages are distributed through mobile messaging aggregators (MMAs) to transmit text data to cell phones and that such a transmission doesn’t include “dialing” a call.

Hopefully, the FCC will use this as an opportunity to finally clarify whether and how the TCPA applies to text message marketing, one of the fastest growing marketing channels. Consumers are eager to receive communications with businesses and brands through text message, but the potential for abuse has made it one of the most tightly regulated channels available to marketers.

Stay tuned for more information on this important story.

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