On January 29, 2024, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. introduced the Do Not Disturb Act, a bill that would amend the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and “fix” the Supreme Court’s ruling in Duguid that limited the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS).

Robocalls, the New ATDS

The bill would delete the term “automatic telephone dialing system” from the TCPA and would instead replace it with “robocalls.” The bill defines “robocalls” as calls and text messages sent using equipment that makes calls or sends text messages to stored telephone numbers or telephone numbers generated by a random or sequential number generator, or using an artificial or prerecorded voice or an artificially generated message.Continue Reading New Bill to Modernize the TCPA Would Significantly Expand Potential Liability

Moving at rapid speed, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has just announced its unanimous adoption of a new Declaratory Ruling finding that voice calls using artificial intelligence (AI)-generated voices fall under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

The ruling takes effect immediately and gives state attorneys general powerful new tools to go after voice cloning scams. Under FCC rules, telemarketers that use robocalls subject to the TCPA are required to obtain prior express written consent from the consumer unless an exemption applies. The TCPA has always prohibited the use of both prerecorded and artificial voices but advances in AI-generated voices have prompted the FCC to specifically address their use.

In recent years, scammers and other parties have begun using AI to create fake and even “cloned” artificial voices, including those of celebrities, politicians, and even a call recipient’s family member. In this election season, there has been increasing concern about the use of voice clones to engage in voter suppression schemes.Continue Reading FCC Clarifies TCPA Rules to Affirmatively Restrict Use of AI-Generated Calls

Telemarketers celebrating the new year should be aware of Maryland’s new telemarketing law, Stop the Spam Calls Act, which took effect January 1, 2024. Like the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), Maryland now prohibits telephone solicitations (i.e., marketing calls and texts) without the prior express written consent of the called party. But unlike the TCPA, which prohibits the use of an “autodialer” or “ATDS,” the Maryland Act prohibits the use of an “automated system.”

What constitutes an autodialer has been thoroughly litigated up to the U.S. Supreme Court. There, the justices decided that an autodialer is a device that “must have the capacity either to store a telephone number using a random or sequential generator or to produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator.”Continue Reading Maryland Rings in the New Year with an Expanded Telemarketing Law

This week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a Proposed Stipulated Order with lead generator Response Tree LLC and its president, resolving allegations that the company violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and Section 5 of the FTC Act. The complaint alleged that the company operated “consent farm” websites that misled consumers into providing their telephone numbers, falsified lead data, and obtained leads without requisite consent, resulting in unlawful prerecorded calls and calls made to telephone numbers on the Do Not Call Registry.

First, the complaint alleges that defendant’s websites duped consumers into providing their telephone numbers by misrepresenting that they were consenting to receive calls about home mortgage financing quotes. According to the complaint, the defendant sold the lead to partners who marketed products or services completely unrelated to home mortgages or lending.Continue Reading FTC Bans Lead Generator from Participating in Robocalls in $7 Million Settlement

Last week, the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture proposing a $20 million forfeiture, essentially a fine, against two telecommunications service providers for failing to properly authenticate customers’ identity before providing online access to Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI). CPNI includes sensitive data, such as called phone numbers, the length and time of calls, and service features. FCC rules mandate that companies handling such information use “reasonable measures” to guard access to CPNI.

Because it would be easy for third parties to impersonate customers and gain access to their CPNI, FCC rules prohibit the use of readily available biographical information or account information. “Readily available biographical information” includes “information drawn from the customer’s life history and includes such things as the customer’s social security number . . . mother’s maiden name; home address; or date of birth.” Account information is “information that is specifically connected to the customer’s service relationship with the carrier, including such things as an account number or any component thereof, the telephone number associated with the account, or the bill’s amount.” FCC rules thus requires service providers to authenticate customer identity without the use of the above information and then require a password.Continue Reading FCC Proposes $20 Million Forfeiture Against Telecommunications Service Providers for Failing to Protect User Data

Marketers and lead generators have new guidance in the form of enforcement orders on what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) appears to consider required practice when obtaining consumer consent prior to the sale, transfer, or disclosure of consumer information that will be used in marketing.

The upshot is that the FTC provided several affirmative requirements

As we recently previewed, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published its Proposed Rule that would codify its updated guidance on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA regulates calls and text messages sent using automated technology and is frequently litigated. Below are the major proposed rule changes on which the FCC seeks comment.Continue Reading FCC Releases Proposed Rule for Codifying Updates to the TCPA

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking intending to strengthen consumers’ ability to revoke consent to receive both robocalls and robotexts, in addition to strengthening callers’/texters’ obligations to honor such requests in a timely manner.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts callers from making robocalls and robotexts unless they have received the prior express consent of the called party, subject to a couple of exemptions. The FCC’s proposed action would broaden a consumer’s ability to revoke consent in “any reasonable way.” For example, simply using words such as “stop,” “revoke,” “end,” or “opt out” in response to a call or text would create a presumption, absent contrary evidence, that the consumer has revoked consent.Continue Reading FCC Proposes Codifying New TCPA Consent Rules in Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Last month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the much-anticipated amendment to the Florida Telemarketing Solicitation Act (FTSA) into law, significantly limiting the ability of private plaintiffs to file telemarketing lawsuits under the FTSA. While this will undoubtedly stem the tide of lawsuits under Florida’s law, class action plaintiffs’ attorneys have wasted no time in finding new states to file suit.

Less than a week before Florida amended the FTSA, a plaintiff filed the first lawsuit under Oklahoma’s Telephone Solicitation Act (OTSA), Streater v. WhaleCo, Inc. The lawsuit challenges text messages sent by WhaleCo., the operator of an online marketplace, alleging violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the OTSA. According to the complaint, the defendant sent multiple texts with coupon codes to the plaintiff to “advertise and call attention to Defendant’s products and related services,”Continue Reading Florida Limits Its Telemarketing Law, but Other State Laws Continue to Gain Traction

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