FCC Updates Automated/Prerecorded Telemarketing Rules to Mirror FTC Requirements for Prior Written, Signed Consent, Automated Opt-Outs, and Related Regulations

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FCC Also Remedies Confusion in Its Rulemaking Proposal by Ensuring New Rules Do Not Affect Non-Telemarketing Prerecorded Calls and Text Messages, Such as for Debt Collection, Airline and School Notifications, Fraud Alerts, Surveys Calls, and Wireless Usage Data

The Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order that revises its rules governing automated/prerecorded telemarketing to modify the consent and opt-out requirements for such calls.    The rule change eliminates the “established business relationship” exception that previously allowed autodialed/prerecorded telemarketing to residential lines.  Meanwhile, the FCC was careful to ensure the new rules cover only automated/prerecorded “telemarketing” calls and text messages, i.e., those that seek to sell or advertise goods or services, while leaving intact preexisting regulations for non-sales prerecorded calls, such as customer-care, surveys, calls by or on behalf of tax-exempt, non-profit entities, etc.

In short, the FCC’s R&O operates to:

• Revise its rules to require prior express written, signed consent for all autodialed/prerecorded telemarketing calls to wireless numbers and residential lines.  The consent must specify the phone number to which it applies, be signed (though anything satisfying the E-SIGN Act qualifies), and reflect willingness to receive prerecorded calls in a clear and conspicuous way.  The FCC also specified that the consent cannot be required, directly or indirectly, as a condition for purchasing any good/service.

• Adopt rules applicable to all automated/prerecorded telemarketing calls that allow consumers to opt out of future automated/prerecorded calls during the call.  This requires "promptly" offering an automated interactive keypress or voice-activated opt-out mechanism that permits the called party to make a company-specific do-not-call request.

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Published In: Antitrust & Trade Regulation Updates, Communications & Media Updates, Privacy Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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