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

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

Late last month — in a decision that seems to have been largely overlooked in the privacy trade press — a federal judge in Illinois held [PDF] that the Wiretap Act did not prohibit the interception of communications sent over unsecured Wi-Fi networks provided by hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and other commercial entities.  The decision came in a case, In re Innovatio Ventures, LLC Patent Litigation, that does not involve an alleged violation of the Wiretap Act.  Rather (as its name suggests), In re Innovatio is an infringement suit in which Innovatio has accused various commercial entities that provide Wi-Fi to their customers of violating its patents in Wi-Fi technology.  To gather evidence about the defendants’ alleged infringing uses, Innovatio has used “commercially available Wi-Fi network analyzers” to “intercept data packets that are travelling . . . between the Wi-Fi router[s] provided by [the Defendants] and any devices that may be communicating with [the routers].”  Innovatio apparently grew concerned that its activities violated the Wiretap Act and sought a preliminary ruling on the admissibility of the evidence it obtains through its “proposed sniffing protocol.”


Continue Reading Court Holds Interception of Unsecured Wi-Fi Communications Does Not Violate the Wiretap Act

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