June 11, 2015

TCPA: Will the FCC Finally Provide Clarity?

Next week on June 18th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on proposed TCPA regulation revisions that if adopted, will ‘close loopholes’ in what the Commission is calling ‘one of the most significant FCC consumer protection actions since it established the Do-Not-Call Registry with the FTC in 2003.’ Although the proposed rulings have not been released to the public, the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a fact sheet, summarizing the proposed rule changes, and provided commentary in a blog post. The ruling is in response to the more than 20 pending petitions requesting clarification on a number of issues. If the proposed declaratory rulings are passed by vote, they will become effective immediately upon release in the Federal Register.

While the fact sheet is brief, the proposed new rules will address the following issues:

  • Revoke consent. Consumers will be granted an explicit right to revoke consent to receive prerecorded messages and texts.
  • Promote blocking technology. Telephone carriers will be granted ability to offer consumers ‘robocall-blocking’ technologies.
  • Calls to reassigned numbers. Some claims of TCPA violations have been the result of calls to reassigned wireless numbers based on the consent of the previous owner. The new rules will provide that if the number has been reassigned, the caller must stop calling the number after one call.
  • Limited exemption for urgent circumstances. A number of petitions have asked the FCC to permit robocalls and text messages to mobile phones in certain circumstances like fraud alerts and prescription refill notifications. The proposed rules will outline which messages can and cannot be placed to wireless telephone numbers.
  • Define an autodialer. The FCC will clarify when equipment is deemed to be an autodialer. The definition of autodialer is significant in TCPA lawsuits because autodialed calls/text messages are the basis of most of the TCPA class action suits.

Gryphon’s Privacy Consulting Team will continue to monitor the FCC’s vote and update this blog with all developments