On Friday July 10th 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its anticipated Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) Declaratory Ruling. The FCC Declaratory Ruling, which became effective immediately upon release, was approved by a 3-2 vote during last month’s highly contentious public meeting.
As part of the Ruling, the FCC:
- Expanded the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS) to include equipment with the potential ability to perform the functions of an ATDS;
- Held that a caller violates the TCPA by making more than one call to a reassigned number unless the current subscriber or customary user of the phone consented to receive such calls;
- Reiterated their prior rulings regarding what constitutes “prior express consent” for non-telemarketing calls;
- Clarified that a person can revoke consent to receive calls in any reasonable manner and that businesses cannot limit the method or medium by which consent can be revoked;
- Provided guidance regarding when certain types of application or service providers may be held liable for unlawful calls made by their customers;
- Reiterated that text messages are considered calls under the TCPA;
- Held that Internet-to-phone text messages are also covered by the TCPA;
- Held that a one-time text message sent immediately after a consumer’s request for the text does not violate the TCPA;
- Provided specific petitioners a waiver—both retroactively and for 89 days after the Ruling—for calls made pursuant to written consent obtained prior to October 16, 2013 (even if the disclosures mandated by the amended TCPA regulations were not given);
- Provided a limited exemption for certain time-sensitive financial and healthcare calls; and
- Clarified that telephone companies and VoIP providers can provide robocall blocking technologies to consumers.