It’s been a busy few weeks with respect to the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), with recent decisions handed down by the D.C. Circuit in ACA International v. FCC and the Ninth Circuit in Romero v. Department Stores National Bank further shaping the contours of the federal law. However, lest we forget, states have telemarketing laws as well and, this week, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law Senate Bill 568, which explicitly sweeps ringless voicemail technology within the state’s law. Ringless voicemail – technology that, in very basic terms, allows for messages to be delivered directly into a consumer’s cell phone voice mailbox without any ringing and without the calls being carried over a cellular network – has been largely untested in court. Several petitions have been filed with the FCC over the past few years requesting declaratory rulings that such messages are not “calls” under the TCPA; we have blogged about them and their status here and here.
The new Florida law makes clear, however, that, as of July 1, 2018, unsolicited ringless voicemails are a no-no within the state. Specifically, Senate Bill 568 amended the definition of “telephonic sales call” to include “voicemail transmissions.” “Voicemail transmissions,” in turn, are defined as “technologies that deliver a voice message directly to a voicemail application, service, or device” – i.e., ringless voicemails. Telemarketers thus should closely scrutinize their calling practices and the technologies they use, and consider whether the Florida orange juice is worth the squeeze in the wake of the new law.