As the 2016 election cycle continues to heat up, the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau (the “FCC” or “Commission”) released an Enforcement Advisory this Monday outlining the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) regulations governing political robocalls, text messages and pre-recorded calls.

Why should political campaigns ensure that their phone calls and text messages are TCPA compliant?

What is the TCPA?

The TCPA was passed into law in 1991. Among other things, the TCPA allows individuals to file lawsuits and collect damages for receiving certain unsolicited pre-recorded or autodialed telephone calls, text messages or faxes.

Isn’t there a TCPA exemption for political calls?

Yes, but the exemption is limited to political campaign-related calls to landline phones only. Political robocalls or text messages to wireless numbers do not enjoy such an exemption and may only be made/delivered with the prior express consent of the called party.

Further, as stated in Monday’s FCC Enforcement Advisory, even political robocalls to landline phones:

  • must not be made to emergency telephone lines, lines in guest or patient rooms at a hospital/nursing home or toll-free lines without the called party’s prior express consent; and
  • must adhere to a number of additional identification and line seizure requirements.

Additionally, it is important to note that intrastate political robocalls and text messages may run afoul of state-level telemarketing regulations, which are often more strict than the TCPA.

TCPA Compliance Crucial for Political Campaigns

Contrary to the belief of many, as the above-mentioned FCC Enforcement Advisory demonstrates, political campaign-related calls are not necessarily exempt from TCPA-related liability or regulatory enforcement, and mistakes can be disastrous. The TCPA provides for either actual damages or statutory damages ranging from $500 to $1,500 per unsolicited call/message. As such, before making/delivering political robocalls or text messages, speak with an experienced telemarketing lawyer.

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, or need to review your telemarketing or text messaging practices, please e-mail us at info@kleinmoynihan.com, or call us at (212) 246-0900.

The material contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.