FCC Holds Contentious Open Meeting, Majority Votes To Arm Plaintiffs With New Swords And Businesses With Few Shields

In the wake of its Open Meeting earlier today, the FCC issued a press release that promises “a package of declaratory rulings” that will bring “much needed clarity for consumers and businesses” on a variety of topics. Whether the rulings provide more answers than questions remains to be seen, as the Commission has yet to issue its order. What was on full display during the meeting and the subsequent press conferences, however, was how disenchanted Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly were with how the order had been negotiated. Neither they nor Chairman Wheeler were willing to elaborate in response to questions from reporters.

Continue reading

FCC To Hold Open Meeting

As we previewed a few weeks ago, the FCC will hold an Open Meeting in Washington, D.C. tomorrow. Its published agenda includes the consideration of “a Declaratory Ruling and Order reaffirming the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s protections against unwanted robocalls, encouraging pro-consumer uses of robocall technology, and responding to a number of requests for clarity from businesses and other callers.” For those who are interested, there will be a live webcast of the meeting. We will report back after the meeting concludes.

FCC Warns that Unilateral PayPal User Agreement Changes May Violate the TCPA

In advance of the FCC’s highly anticipated June 18 meeting, during which it is likely to vote on an omnibus order disposing of a wide range of pending petitions for declaratory ruling, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau took an early shot across the bow at a proposed change to  PayPal Inc.’s User Agreement. In an unusual move, the Bureau sent a public letter to PayPal warning it that its new broad “consent to contact” provision may violate the TCPA.

The updates to the User Agreement authorize PayPal to contact a consumer by “autodialed or prerecorded calls and text messages … at any telephone number provided … or otherwise obtained” in order to notify the consumer about his or her account, to troubleshoot problems, or resolve a dispute, collect a debt, poll for opinions, to contact a consumer with promotions, or “as otherwise necessary.” The terms lack an opt-out mechanism for consumers who do not wish to receive these calls. Further, PayPal’s PayPal’s Policy Updates page uses bold and capital letters to make consent to contact a condition of use: “IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE AMENDED USER AGREEMENT, PRIVACY POLICY OR ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY, YOU MAY CLOSE YOUR ACCOUNT BEFORE JULY 1, 2015 AND YOU WILL NOT BE BOUND BY THE AMENDED TERMS.”

Continue reading

Illinois Federal Court Follows Eleventh Circuit’s Broad Definition of “Sender” in Blast Fax Case

Through prior posts (see here, here, and here), we have monitored the FCC’s somewhat perplexing distinction between calls and faxes in the context of analyzing direct and vicarious liability under the TCPA. Just two months ago, the FCC’s position, as originally set forth in a letter brief, was adopted by the Eleventh Circuit in Palm Beach Golf Center-Boca, Inc. v. Sarris, 781 F.3d 1245 (11th Cir. 2015) (“Sarris”). The Sarris court held that “a person whose services are advertised in an unsolicited fax transmission, and on whose behalf the fax is transmitted, may be held liable directly” under the TCPA.

Continue reading