The FCC has announced its intention to take another step in combatting fraudulent robocalls by amending its Truth in Caller ID rules to extend to communications originating from outside the United States, as well as expanding the scope of covered communications services to include text messages and additional voice services. Specifically, in anticipation of its scheduled January 30, 2019 Open Meeting, the FCC, just prior to its shutdown on January 3, 2019, released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which would implement new FCC rules and definitions designed to deter malicious caller identification spoofing. The proposed rules are intended to update current FCC Truth in Caller ID rules to reflect Congress’ recent enactment of Section 503 of the RAY BAUM’S Act that modified section 227(e) of the Communications Act as well as to “expand and clarify the prohibition on misleading or inaccurate caller identification information.” Continue reading
After several proceedings and requests for comment, the FCC has approved the creation of a single, centralized reassigned numbers database—a new resource to identify and avoid calling reassigned numbers. Ideally, the proposed database will help businesses in identifying numbers that are being recycled before they are called, thus helping to cut down on the number of calls consumers receive by mistake. This alert outlines the framework of the new database, including access, administration, types of information collected, usage, and potential costs and benefits.
Reflecting the nearly universal sense by constituents that call spoofing and other illegal forms of robocalls are annoying and unwelcome, on November 15, a bipartisan team of United States senators, Senators Markey, Thune and Wicker, introduced a bill titled the “Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act” also known as the TRACED Act. The bill is designed to provide the FCC and other federal agencies acting in concert with the FCC with additional tools to combat spoofing and other illegal robocalling operations by amending Section 227 of the Communications Act to provide for enhanced civil penalties for violation of TCPA rules. Specifically, the bill would provide the FCC going forward with forfeiture authority to assess civil penalties of up to $10,000 per illegal robocall violation and extend the current FCC statute of limitations to investigate TCPA violations from the current one year to three years. The bill also creates new criminal fines of up to $10,000 per violation that can be trebled if the activity was intentional. The FCC would have 270 days following enactment to develop implementing regulations. The bill does not introduce any changes to the current private right of action provisions of Section 227 of the Act. Continue reading
We previously described the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Marks v. Crunch San Diego which, contrary to the D.C. Circuit’s ACA International ruling in March of this year, treated the definition of an ATDS expansively, holding that that statutory definition of an ATDS includes equipment that has the capacity (1) to store numbers to be called or (2) to produce numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator. We explained how the Ninth Circuit’s decision represented an improper interpretation of the ATDS statutory language. And we previously reported how the FCC sought expedited public comment on the Marks decision. Continue reading
On May 3, 2018, a broad range of 18 industry groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce petitioned the FCC to take much-needed action to curb abusive TCPA litigation stemming from prior FCC and court interpretations of the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system (“ATDS”). The petition naturally followed from the D.C. Circuit’s decision in ACA Int’l v. Fed. Commc’ns Comm’n, 885 F.3d 687 (D.C. Cir. 2018) to vacate the FCC’s ATDS interpretation contained in the 2015 FCC Declaratory Ruling and Order (“2015 TCPA Order”) as unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious. The petitioners seek clarity on the definition of an ATDS so businesses can better understand how they can effectively communicate with their customers without fear of liability under Section 227(b) of the TCPA. Continue reading
On March 22, 2018, the FCC adopted a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) on reassigned numbers. On April 23, 2018, the FNPRM was published in the Federal Register, triggering the commenting period deadlines. Comments on the FNPRM must be submitted by June 7, and reply comments must be submitted by July 9, 2018. Continue reading
In anticipation of its March 22 Public Meeting, the FCC on March 1 released a draft of a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing comments received on its earlier Notice of Inquiry on proposals for a database to identify reassigned numbers (FNPRM). The FNPRM was released alongside the FCC’s Public Meeting Agenda. The draft FNPRM primarily seeks comment on: (1) the specific information that callers would need from any reassigned number database; and (2) the best way to make that information available to callers. The draft will be considered for adoption by the full Commission at the meeting. Continue reading
As we previously reported, the Senate Committee on the Judiciary recently held a hearing entitled “The Impact of Lawsuit Abuse on American Small Businesses and Job Creators.” Although the TCPA was not the sole focus of the hearing, concerns about abusive lawsuits are highly applicable in the TCPA context.
A recent decision from the Northern District of Ohio highlights the importance of having a carefully drafted arbitration agreement in callers’ customer-facing contracts. See Treinish v. BorrowersFirst, Inc., No. 17-1371, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145772 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 8, 2017).
The Plaintiff in Treinish had borrowed money from the Defendant. Id. at *1. Their contract contained two notable provisions: a provision that agreed to resolve disputes in arbitration and a provision that consented to receive automated calls from the Defendant and related entities on her cellphone. Id. at *1-2. Continue reading
On Tuesday, October 3, 2017, the Senate confirmed Chairman Ajit Pai to a second term at the FCC, enabling him to potentially stay on as chairman until the end of 2021. Originally appointed by President Obama in 2012, Chairman Pai was a member of the Republican minority on the Commission until early 2017, when former Chairman Tom Wheeler resigned and President Trump elevated Pai to the chairmanship. While Pai’s term technically ended in 2016, FCC rules allowed him to keep serving until the end of 2017 while the Senate considered his re-nomination. Continue reading