Last week, on July 5, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released an opinion stating that robocalls made by the federal government (or its contractors) are exempt from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Because the federal government does not meet the definition of ‘person’ under the TCPA, the federal government and its contractors who are complying with the governments instructions do not need to worry about TCPA restrictions. ‘Person’ includes individuals, partnerships, associations, joint-stock companies, trusts and corporations—no mention of the federal government.
Specifically, the FCC said, “Our clarification comports with congressional intent and advances the public interest. As noted, there is no evidence in the text or legislative history of the TCPA that Congress intended to restrict federal government communications, and we agree with members of Congress that the goal of the TCPA has never been to impede communications from the federal government, especially those that gather data for important government research.” This decision stemmed from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, where the court held that the United States and its agencies are exempt from the TCPA’s prohibitions.
In its opinion, the FCC specifically noted that this ruling does not make robocalls made by state or local governments (or their agents) exempt from TCPA requirements nor are robocalls made for political campaigning exempt. However, the FCC did carve out an exception for tele-town halls when used by federal legislators or their agents as well as research survey calls made by the federal government or calls provided by the National Employment Network Association.