Federal Communications Commission

By Caleb Skeath

Last Friday, the FCC announced that it intends to fine two telecommunications carriers — TerraCom, Inc., and YourTel America, Inc. — a total of $10 million for failing to protect certain customer data.  According to the FCC, the two carriers, which provide discount phone services to low-income individuals, posted customer “proprietary information” on unprotected Internet servers that were accessible by the public.  The fine, approved by a 3-2 vote, represents the largest privacy action in FCC history, eclipsing a $7.4 million fine handed down to Verizon in early September for failing to provide customers with required notices about Verizon’s use of Customer Proprietary Network Information (“CPNI”).

Continue Reading FCC Expands Application of Customer Privacy Provisions with $10 Million Fine Against Carriers

A Consent Decree adopted by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau on September 2 settles the FCC’s inquiry into allegations that Verizon failed to provide some customers with required notices about Verizon’s use of Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) and took too long to notify the FCC after discovering the error. Under the Consent Decree, Verizon will

Last week, the governor of Connecticut signed into law a new requirement that extends compliance with the state’s existing Do-Not-Call registry to promotional text messages (SMS).  Specifically, the law amends the definition of a “telephonic sales call” to include a “text or media message sent by or on behalf of a telephone solicitor,” thereby prohibiting

Earlier this week, the FCC announced that mobile wireless company Sprint will pay $7.5 million to resolve allegations that the company failed to honor consumer requests to be placed on Sprint’s entity-specific Do-Not-Call list.  The settlement represents the largest of its kind between the FCC and a carrier.

Through this settlement agreement, which follows

Last week, the FCC issued two TCPA rulings that shed further light on whether and under what circumstances an individual can provide “prior express consent”—or convey such consent—for another in the context of automated or prerecorded informational calls or text messages to mobile phones.  One of these rulings came in response to a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by the Cargo Airline Association (CAA), and the other came in response to a Petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by GroupMe, Inc./Skype Communications S.A.R.L. (GroupMe).  Coincidentally, the Eleventh Circuit issued its own opinion last week in Osorio v. State Farm Bank that touched on a similar issue.  A summary of each can be found after the jump.

Continue Reading FCC and 11th Circuit Address “Prior Express Consent” by a Third Party Under the TCPA

Earlier today, the FCC placed on public notice two petitions requesting that the agency clarify or forbear from enforcing certain aspects of its new TCPA regulations that went into effect on October 16, 2013.  Those regulations, which we summarized here, created, among other things, a new “prior express written consent” requirement for the transmission

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that companies may send a one-time text message to confirm that a subscriber has opted out of receiving text messages without violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).  In the FCC’s view, if a consumer has consented to receiving text messages and subsequently opts out, the consumer’s prior express

A number of key developments affecting telemarketing emerged over the past week:

1.  The distinction between informational and telemarketing calls was further defined.  The 9th Circuit held that calls intended to impart information about a customer rewards program could be construed as “dual purpose” calls subject to federal and state telemarketing restrictions.  See Chesbro v. Best Buy Co., Inc.

2.  Effective dates were announced for the new requirements on autodialed and prerecorded calls that were adopted by the FCC in February 2012. 

  • Effective immediately:  all prerecorded “heath care” messages subject to HIPAA transmitted to residential lines are exempt from the FCC’s consent, identification, time-of-day, opt-out, and call abandonment requirements.
  • Effective November 15, 2012:  the FCC’s three percent call abandonment rate must be calculated on a 30-day basis for every telemarketing calling campaign.  (It is possible that the FCC will consider delaying this effective date to January 14, 2013, to align it with the interactive opt-out requirement discussed below.)
  • Effective January 14, 2013:  all prerecorded telemarketing calls must include an automated, interactive opt-out mechanism throughout the duration of the call, as well as a toll-free telephone number that can be contacted to opt out when a prerecorded telemarketing message is left on voicemail or an answering machine. 
  • Effective October 16, 2013:  prior express written consent is required to transmit prerecorded or autodialed telemarketing calls to wireless numbers, and the established business relationship exception no longer applies to prerecorded telemarketing calls to residential lines.


Continue Reading Telemarketing Recap: Recent Key Developments at the FCC, FTC and in the Courts

As we reported, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) recently announced that it is seeking comments on the protection of data stored on mobile devices by wireless phone carriers. The FCC has noted that the comments it previously received on the issue five years ago are already “badly out of date.”  The Federal Register published

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has released a Public Notice seeking comments on the steps wireless phone carriers are taking to protect the privacy and data security of customer information that is stored on consumers’ mobile devices and on how existing laws apply to the carriers’ information practices. 

Section 222 of the Communications Act and the