On July 10, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), by a 3-2 vote, published a Declaratory Ruling and Order (“Order”) intended by the FCC to clarify what conduct violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). 3 The Order went into effect upon publication. Among other provisions, the TCPA requires prior express consent for certain autodialed and prerecorded/artificial voice calls and text messages to wireless numbers, and prior express written consent for telemarketing messages. Key points addressed in the Order included the following:
- The FCC affirmed that it considers the term “autodialer” to include technology with the potential capacity to dial random or sequential numbers, even if the technology does not have the present capacity or is not currently being used for that purpose.
- Regarding reassigned numbers, the Order permits companies to place one call to a reassigned number without obtaining the new subscriber’s prior consent to receive autodialed calls, if the company had no knowledge of the reassignment and has a reasonable basis to believe that the company has the subscriber’s consent; however, any additional calls will be considered a violation of the TCPA unless the company obtains the new owner’s consent to receive autodialed/prerecorded calls.
- The FCC explained that consumers may revoke their consent to receive calls at any time and through any reasonable means, and the calling party may not limit the means by which a consumer may revoke their consent.
- The FCC recognized exemptions from the prior express consent requirement for specific types of financial alerts and healthcare messages, subject to certain conditions. This exemption does not extend to calls that include marketing or debt collection messages.
- The Order states that the TCPA does not prevent telecommunications companies or Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) providers from providing consumers with technologies to block unwanted autodialed/prerecorded calls.