Mark Your Calendars: Major TCPA Rulings May Be On the Way

Published: Jun. 04, 2015

Updated: Oct. 05, 2020

Companies involved in telemarketing or in the transmission of text messages have been patiently waiting for the FCC to act on the plethora of petitions seeking clarification on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Indeed, we previously blogged about how FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly published a blog post in March 2014, urging the FCC to address TCPA petitions as soon as possible. Over a year has passed since that blog post, and it now appears that the FCC is poised to rule on 24 of the back-logged TCPA petitions. Just last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler published a blog post and the FCC issued a fact sheet on the proposed rulings. The FCC subsequently published an agenda for the June 18, 2015 meeting where rulings are set to be issued.

Those familiar with TCPA litigation no doubt are aware of the conflicting court interpretations of “autodialer,” the confusion over whether companies can be liable for sending text messages to reassigned mobile numbers, and the confusion over what types of text messages or calls fall under the emergency exception to the TCPA. Chairman Wheeler’s blog post suggests the proposed Omnibus order—scheduled to be presented for a vote at the June 18 meeting—may include a number of significant TCPA rulings, including:

  • Autodialer Definition: An autodialer is any technology with the capacity to dial random or sequential numbers, and this includes calling from a list of numbers.
  • Reassigned Numbers: Where phone numbers have been reassigned, callers must stop calling the number after one call to the new subscriber.
  • Exceptions: Limited and specific exceptions would exist for free calls or texts to alert consumers about possible fraud on their bank accounts or to remind them of important medication refills.

The FCC will broadcast the June 18 meeting live on its website. Companies involved in communicating with customers and potential customers by phone or text message should pay very close attention to rulings issued by the FCC. Based on the documents issued last week, we anticipate significant movement that could dramatically alter how companies conduct business via telephone or text message. For example, Chairman Wheeler stated in his blog post that his proposed Omnibus order would “ensure that robocallers cannot skirt consent requirements through changes in technology design.”

Stay tuned, we will also post an update to our blog after the June 18th meeting.

Photo by Dan Markeye from Flickr