As part of a broader campaign to go after “robocall” violations, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a $5,134,500 fine against a company and its owners for making 1,141 robocalls in 2020 that violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The company told recipients of the robocalls that if they voted by mail, their personal information would “be part of a public database that will be used by police departments to track down old warrants and be used by credit card companies to collect outstanding debts.” The case is a strong reminder that political calling campaigns are also subject to the TCPA.

Both the TCPA and the FCC’s rules prohibit prerecorded voice calls to wireless telephone numbers without the recipients’ prior express consent, and this is true regardless of the caller’s intent. These restrictions apply equally to both telemarketing and informational calls, including all non-commercial and political calls. The only exception is for calls that are made for an emergency purpose.Continue Reading FCC Levies $5 Million Fine for Political Calling Campaign That Violated the TCPA

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to “ban the practice of obtaining a single consumer consent as grounds for delivering calls and text messages from multiple marketers on subjects beyond the scope of the original consent.”

According to the FCC, the proposed rule’s intent is to prevent lead generators from obtaining consent to receive calls and texts from multiple “partner companies” identified through a hyperlink rather than on the same page where consent is obtained. Implementing this rule could drastically change the way lead generators obtain consent for marketing calls and texts under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).Continue Reading FCC Proposes Rule to “Close the Lead Generator Loophole,” with Business-Changing Ramifications

Last week, a magistrate judge in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina dismissed a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) lawsuit brought by a plaintiff who claimed calls made by an insurance lead generator to her cell phone number, which was registered on the national Do Not Call (DNC) registry, were unlawful. The decision takes a view contrary to that of at least one other district court in the Fourth Circuit, but sides with a district court in Texas in finding that the do not call prohibitions of the TCPA do not encompass cell phones.

Does this latest decision, Gaker v. Q3M Insurance Solutions et al., mean that telemarketing calls to cellphone numbers listed on the national DNC list are actually OK? Probably not. For starters, since 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has allowed cell phone numbers to be registered on the DNC list and interpreted the TCPA’s do-not-call prohibitions to encompass cell phone numbers. Other courts have followed the FCC’s lead in this matter. However, the judge’s reasoning in the Gaker case is interesting to consider, particularly for anyone following a textualist reading of Congress’s laws.Continue Reading North Carolina Judge Says Cell Phones Not Subject to Federal Do-Not-Call Protections

For years, lead generators have obtained telephone numbers for their clients to call by obtaining the consumer’s consent to receive calls from certain entities specifically identified by the lead generator. A typical model uses language that asks for the consumer’s consent, via a checkbox or otherwise, to receive marketing calls from a few of the lead generator’s marketing partners named in the consent request.

A popular variation of this model is to include, instead of a list of partners by name, a clickable reference to “marketing partners” in the consent language. The specific marketing partners are visible only when the consumer clicks the link and views whatever list of marketing partner names the lead generator has provided.

Sometimes, the marketing partners list has several dozens, hundreds, or thousands of names.  With such long lists, one might ask: How many names on the marketing partners list is too many to evidence meaningful consent by the consumer to receive calls or texts? As recently declared by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the answer is 5,329.  As a practical matter, the number might be a whole lot less.Continue Reading Telemarketing Lead Generators: How Many “Marketing Partners” Is Too Many?

At the tail end of 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on proposals to streamline the processing of satellite and Earth station applications under Part 25 of its rules. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel explained that “the new space age needs new rules,” given the growing space economy, and that the public and private sectors will need to collaborate better.

Innovations in the space industry, from low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations to developments in in-space servicing and manufacturing (ISAM), have led to an influx of satellite and gateway Earth station applications in recent years. The impact? Greater demand on the agency’s resources and longer and less predictable wait times for its review and grant of applications. In fact, the rapid rise in the number of satellites being launched, coupled with the novelty and complexity of many of the new systems and spacecraft, caused Rosenworcel to announce plans to create a Space Bureau at the agency.Continue Reading FCC Planning New Rules to Streamline Satellites and Earth Station Applications

On December 27, 2022, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an Order on Reconsideration and Declaratory Ruling clarifying the express consent requirements for calls placed to residential landlines under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (TRACED Act).

First, a little background: The TCPA restricts a caller’s ability to place telephone calls to a residential landline using artificial or prerecorded voice messages without the prior express consent of the called party, unless exempted by statute or FCC rule or order.Continue Reading FCC Clarifies Express Written Consent Requirement for Exempt Callers under TCPA and TRACED Act

Just weeks after President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met face-to-face to restore dialogue between the two countries, the Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules that could limit national security threats posed by Chinese-made communications and electronic devices. The FCC said last week it adopted the new rules “to further secure our communications networks and supply chains from equipment that poses an unacceptable risk to national security.”

The rules will prohibit market access of certain equipment in the United States by banning the authorization of items the FCC believes pose national security concerns. The agency said it will do this by expanding the devices, communications equipment, and entities placed on its “Covered List” and require those seeking equipment authorization to state that they are not putting those items into the market.Continue Reading U.S.-China Relationship: Assessing the Risk of Marketing Electronics Made Outside the United States

Regulatory certainty is a key component in investing in the wireless space. Whether you’re evaluating a wireless network or an infrastructure play, a product that relies on wireless devices, or an emergent wireless technology, a potential acquisition or investment requires a comprehensive understanding of the venture. That includes the impact of the regulatory environment on the likelihood of success of the business plan and potential liabilities and risks.

Traditional due diligence may no longer be enough, given the quickly changing regulatory environment. When doing analysis and diligence, how can you ensure that it’s comprehensive enough for today’s regulatory environment?Continue Reading Finding Alpha in the Wireless Space: Regulatory Changes That Could Impact Investment

The Federal Communications Commission has concluded its official comment cycle for the Notice of Inquiry “Promoting Efficient Use of Spectrum through Improved Receiver Interference Immunity Performance.” As expected, most industry comments support a hands-off, industry-led approach to governing receiver performance, while academics and policy doyens argue for more comprehensive and stringent policies, including the adoption of actual rules, such as to establish harms claims thresholds for receivers.

We expect that under current leadership especially, the commission will pursue a middle-of-the-road solution that would not involve the adoption of new rules but would likely include the issuance of a policy statement on receiver performance. While a policy statement may not be on the top of the FCC’s agenda, this is certainly something that the staff can be working on during the fall, and while the comment period has closed, parties still have the opportunity to meet with the commission to influence any potential action. We expect that many will do so.

What could a Receiver Policy Statement look like? We believe that it could contain the following elements.Continue Reading The Aftermath of the FCC Receiver Proceeding: Our Expectations