Advertising & Marketing

Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Facebook v. Duguid, adopting a narrow interpretation of a key definitional term in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and resolving the circuit split we previously described here and here.

In effect, the Supreme Court’s opinion means that to qualify as an “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS) under the TCPA, a device must use a random or sequential number generator; a device that calls a prescribed set of telephone numbers without using such a number generator would stand outside that definition and thus not be regulated by the TCPA.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Narrows Meaning of TCPA Autodialer Definition

On December 30, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Report and Order (“Order”) that imposed certain new restrictions on nonmarketing prerecorded calls to residential lines.  The action was in response to Congress’s mandate in the TRACED Act that the FCC reevaluate certain exemptions the agency previously granted regarding the consent requirements for prerecorded calls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).
Continue Reading FCC Imposes New Requirements on Nonmarketing Prerecorded Calls to Residential Lines

On January 12, 2021, the German Ministry for the Economy and Energy released a new draft Law on Data Protection and the Protection of Privacy in Telecommunications and Telemedia (“TTDSG” or “draft law”).  If enacted, the draft law will replace the existing data protection and privacy provisions of Germany’s Telemedia Act and Telecommunications Act (“Telemedia Act”), including provisions applicable to the use of cookies and similar technologies.  The draft text was subject to public consultation from its publication until January 22, 2021, and responses submitted during that period will now be considered by the German Federal Government in advance of a formal proposal for the Federal Parliament to consider.

Continue Reading Germany Publishes New Draft Rules for Cookies and Similar Technologies

On September 16, 2020, the Spanish Supervisory Authority (“AEPD”) approved a “Code of Conduct for Data Processing in Advertising” (“Code”) (see the decision approving the code here). This is the first GDPR approved Code of Conduct with an accredited monitoring body in the European Union. The Code enters into effect on November 17, 2020, two months after its approval.

Below we provide a brief FAQ about the Code.


Continue Reading The Spanish Supervisory Authority Approves a GDPR Code of Conduct on Advertising

Last week, an Ohio district court found that violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) occurring between 2015 and July 2020 cannot be enforced because the law was unconstitutional at the time.  The case is captioned Lindenbaum v. Realgy, LLC, No. 19-CV-02862 (N.D. Ohio), and the opinion builds on an earlier decision from a Louisiana district court that reached a similar conclusion in Creasy v. Charter Communications Inc., No. 20-CV-01199 (E.D. La.).
Continue Reading Courts Find TCPA Unenforceable for Acts Prior to July 2020

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a proposal to review and potentially revise a number of existing exemptions that the FCC has adopted with respect to certain Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requirements.  The FCC’s review could end up narrowing or eliminating some of these longstanding exemptions, imposing consent requirements or other obligations that today are not required for certain kinds of calls and texts.

Continue Reading FCC Reevaluating Certain TCPA Compliance Exemptions

On 7 September 2020, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) adopted draft guidelines on the targeting of social media users (the “Guidelines”).  The Guidelines aim to clarify the roles and responsibilities of social media providers and “targeters” with regard to the processing of personal data for the purposes of targeting social media users.

Continue Reading EDPB Publishes Draft Guidelines on the Targeting of Social Media Users

Today, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, which addressed the constitutionality of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  Although the Court splintered in its reasoning—producing four separate opinions—the justices nevertheless coalesced around two core conclusions: (1) the TCPA’s exception for government debt collection calls is unconstitutional, and (2) the exception can be severed from the rest of the TCPA.  Six justices determined that the TCPA’s government-debt exception violates the First Amendment, and seven justices concluded that the exception is severable from the rest of the statute.  The end result is that the government-debt exception is invalid but the rest of the TCPA—including its general prohibition on automated calls and text messages to mobile numbers—remains intact.  The narrow scope of this ruling suggests that it may have limited practical effect for most parties.

As we previously explained, the TCPA, as originally enacted in 1991, restricts the use of an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to transmit calls or texts to mobile numbers without the recipient’s prior express consent (the ATDS prohibition).  In 2015, Congress amended the TCPA to exempt from the ATDS prohibition calls made to collect a debt owed to the United States.  The question before the Supreme Court was whether the government-debt exception violates the First Amendment and, if so, whether the proper remedy is to sever the exception—leaving intact the rest of the TCPA—or invalidate the entire ATDS prohibition.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Invalidates TCPA Government-Debt Exception

Earlier this week, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau released a Declaratory Ruling clarifying the agency’s interpretation of the “Automatic Telephone Dialing System” (an “autodialer” or “ATDS”) definition in the Telephone Consumer Protection (TCPA).  The Ruling clarified that, in the context of a call or text message platform, the definition does not turn on whether the platform is used by others to transmit a large volume of calls or text messages; instead, the relevant inquiry is whether, in this context, the platform is capable of transmitting calls or text messages without a user manually dialing each such call or text message.

The Declaratory Ruling was issued in response to a Petition filed by the P2P Alliance  seeking confirmation that its text messaging platform is not an autodialer and therefore not subject to the TCPA’s ATDS-related consent requirements.  These requirements generally prohibit using an ATDS to call or text a mobile number without the recipient’s consent.  The Petition stated that the text messaging platform at issue required users of the platform “to actively and affirmatively manually dial each recipient’s number and transmit each message one at a time.”  The Petition also stated that recipients generally would provide their consent to receive such messages by providing their mobile numbers to the platform’s users.
Continue Reading FCC Issues Two TCPA Declaratory Rulings, One Clarifying Autodialer Definition

As consumers rely more and more on the “independent” reviews of their peers in choosing products and services, advertisers need to remain vigilant that their role (if any) in disseminating such reviews is fairly disclosed, accurate and not misleading.  The pitfalls in this area were recently illustrated by a pair of enforcement actions brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.  These actions, the latest in a series of similar enforcement efforts, confirm that review sites remain a hotbed of enforcement activity, and both actions serve as good reminders of the standards that review sites must observe to avoid similar actions.

The first of these actions is an FTC enforcement against LendEDU, which centered around the “objective,” “honest,” “accurate,” and “unbiased” rankings of financial products that LendEDU posted to its review site.  The FTC alleged that, far from being objective and honest, these rankings were in fact determined based on compensation from the companies being ranked.  In addition, the FTC alleged that over ninety percent of LendEDU’s “unbiased” positive reviews were in fact written by LendEDU employees and their friends and families.
Continue Reading FTC and NAD Actions Highlight Continued Scrutiny of Online Reviews