On June 18, 2015 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a set of declaratory rulings related to robocalls and spam text messages under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Specifically, the rulings provide the following:

  • Robocall blocking can now be offered to consumers by telephone service providers.
  • Consumers’ can now revoke their consent to receive autodialed telephone calls and text messages in any reasonable way at any time. This will make it even more difficult for businesses to track consumer consent.
  • Businesses must stop calling reassigned wireless telephone numbers after one single call.
  • The definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” includes machines with a future capacity to dial randomly, sequentially and even from a list loaded into a dialer. But human intervention, is NOT sufficient to overcome automatic telephone dialing system status under TCPA regulations.
  • Consumer consent passes from a land line to a wireless telephone number if the consumer ports his or her telephone number from the original land line to a wireless device.
  • Telephone calls and text messages can be sent to consumers for “urgent circumstances” such as to alert a consumer of potential fraud (e.g. from a bank or other financial institution), or to remind the consumer of an urgent medication refill (e.g. from a health care provider or pharmaceutical company).

Additionally, the rulings reaffirm that text messages are in fact considered “calls” under the TCPA regulations, the called party must provide consent not the intended recipient, autodialed or prerecorded telephone calls or text messages to mobile devices still require prior express consent, and consumers still have a private right of action in addition to statutory fines and penalties.

While FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, said that “legitimate businesses seeking to provide legitimate information will not have difficulties,” not everyone agrees with these rulings. FCC Commissioner, Jessica Rosenworcel, said in her dissenting opinion, “Consumers have made clear–abundantly clear–they want fewer robocalls. So I do not understand why for some sectors of the economy [the FCC] gives the green light for more robocalls when consumers want a red one.”