Federal Communications Commission

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

FCC Chairman Pai announced today that the FCC will move forward with a rulemaking to clarify the meaning of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA).  To date, Section 230 generally has been interpreted to mean that social media companies, ISPs, and other “online intermediaries” have not been subject to liability for their users’ actions.
Continue Reading FCC Announces Section 230 Rulemaking

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

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

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took additional steps to implement the various mandates in the TRACED Act (discussed here and here), which was enacted late last year to help combat illegal robocalls.  Specifically, the FCC yesterday released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that seeks comment on how best to eliminate “one-ring scams.”  Included in the NPRM is a proposed rule that would permit voice service providers to block callers suspected of transmitting such scam calls.
Continue Reading FCC Continues TRACED Act Implementation, Proposes to Expand Scope of Permissible Call Blocking

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) on its own motion released a Declaratory Ruling to confirm that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an “emergency” under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”); as a consequence, hospitals, health care providers, state and local health officials, and other government officials may lawfully communicate through automated or prerecorded calls (which include text messages) information about the coronavirus and mitigation measures to mobile telephone numbers and certain other numbers (such as those of first responders) without “prior express consent.”

By way of background, absent “prior express consent,” the TCPA prohibits the transmission of an automated or prerecorded call to any mobile telephone number.  However, this prohibition is subject to an “emergency purposes” exception.  The TCPA does not define what constitute “emergency purposes,” but the FCC’s rules construe the term to mean “calls made necessary in any situation affecting the health and safety of consumers.”
Continue Reading FCC Clarifies that COVID-19 “Emergency Purposes” Calls/Text are Not Subject to “Prior Express Consent” Requirement

Yesterday, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc. v. PDR Network, LLC, No. 17-1705.  The case began when Carlton & Harris sued PDR Network for alleged violations of the commercial fax provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).  The Fourth Circuit ruled in Carlton & Harris’s favor, relying on

Yesterday, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking comment on a recent decision issued by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC, No. 14-56834 (Sept. 20, 2018).  The Public Notice, issued in the context of the FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) reform proceeding, seeks

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice seeking comment on a range of issues relevant to its interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), including how the FCC should interpret what constitutes an “automatic telephone dialing system” in the wake of a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to vacate the agency’s prior interpretation of that term.

This same issue was the focus of a petition for declaratory ruling filed earlier this month by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and a number of other industry organizations.

The Public Notice seeks comment on a range of other TCPA issues, some of which also were addressed by the D.C. Circuit’s recent decision.  These include how calls to reassigned mobile telephone numbers should be treated under the TCPA and the ways in which a party may revoke his or her prior express consent to receive automated or prerecorded calls under the statute. 
Continue Reading FCC Seeking Comment on Key TCPA Reform Issues in Wake of DC Circuit Ruling