New York has amended its Do Not Call law to cover automated telephone calls that deliver pre-recorded messages–so-called “robocalls.”  The New York law generally prohibits businesses from making “telemarketing sales calls” to consumers who have registered their telephone numbers on the national Do Not Call Registry, which is administered by the FTC and FCC. 

The heart of the amendments, which took effect on December 11, is the redefinition of “telemarketing sales call.”  While the previous version of the law defined that term to mean only “a call made by a telemarketer to a customer,” the revised definition also covers calls made using “any outbound telephone calling technology that delivers a prerecorded message either to a customer or to their voicemail or answering machine service.”  The amendments also set limits on when a telemarketer may place calls (only between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.) and require that telemarketers disclose at the outset of any call: (1) the telemarketer’s name and the person on whose behalf the call is being made; (2) the purpose of the call; and (3) the goods or services the telemarketer is selling. 

New York’s changes come as the FTC and FCC re-examine their telemarketing rules (a development Dan Kahn discussed in his December 13 post) and exemplify regulators’ renewed concerns about protecting consumers from unsolicited calls in the evolving telecommunications environment.  While New York’s amended Do Not Call law does well to recognize the increasing prevalence of automated calls, it is unclear whether the law will actually address consumer complaints, which have tended to arise from receiving large numbers of automated political calls before elections.  Such calls, along with calls from charities and from businesses with which a consumer has an existing relationship, are exempt from federal and state regulation.