Tag: Federal Communications Commission

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FCC Begins Rulemaking Process to Allow Blocking of “Spoofed” Number Calls
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Eleventh Circuit Bolsters FCC Interpretation of “Prior Express Consent” under the TCPA
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FCC Order Confirms that TCPA Regulations Require Opt-Out Notice on All Fax Advertisements, Even Those Sent with Prior Express Permission

FCC Begins Rulemaking Process to Allow Blocking of “Spoofed” Number Calls

By Pamela J. Garvie, Andrew C. Glass, Joseph Wylie II, Gregory N. Blase, and Matthew T. Houston

The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted at its March 23, 2017, “open meeting” to begin the process for adopting rules allowing carriers to block “spoofed” number calls. These are calls that use a reputable or commonly-known telephone number to mask the actual originating number. The proposed rules would allow carriers to block calls purporting to originate from telephone numbers that (1) are not assigned to a subscriber, (2) are invalid, or (3) are assigned to a subscriber expressly requesting that its number not be spoofed. In his remarks, Chairman Ajit Pai indicated that the proposed rules are needed to target scammers impersonating federal agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service, and to protect consumers from unwanted solicitations. Commissioner Michael O’Rielly indicated that the proposed rules aim to address illegal “robocalls” in a manner that does not affect legitimate businesses, as opposed to prior efforts to regulate such calls under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, 47 U.S.C. § 227. The proposed rules and accompanying comments suggest an effort by the now Republican-controlled FCC to issue rules specifically intended to block unwanted robocalls, often from overseas, intended to defraud consumers.

The FCC approved both a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and a Notice of Inquiry to solicit feedback from consumers and other parties with an interest in the proposed rules. Comments on the proposed rules will be due within forty-five (45) days after publication in the Federal Register. Final rules are unlikely to take effect earlier than late 2017.

Eleventh Circuit Bolsters FCC Interpretation of “Prior Express Consent” under the TCPA

By: Gregory N. Blase, Andrew C. Glass, Samantha A. Miko

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently bolstered the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) interpretation of “prior express consent,” a key term under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).

In Mais v. Gulf Coast Collection Bureau, Inc., the plaintiff’s wife provided the plaintiff’s cellphone number on a hospital admittance form. The form disclosed that any information supplied could be shared with the hospital’s affiliates and used for any purpose, including for billing. After the plaintiff failed to pay a hospital affiliate’s invoice for treatment services rendered, the affiliate provided the plaintiff’s contact information to the defendant, which initiated collection activity, including contacting the plaintiff at the cellphone number that was provided on his admittance form by his wife. Read More

FCC Order Confirms that TCPA Regulations Require Opt-Out Notice on All Fax Advertisements, Even Those Sent with Prior Express Permission

By: Joseph C. Wylie II, Molly K. McGinley, Nicole C. Mueller

On October 30, 2014, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released an Order that “confirms” that opt-out notices complying with rules and regulations adopted by the FCC in 2006, pursuant to the authority granted to the FCC under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991, as amended by the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005, are required on all advertisements transmitted by facsimile, including advertisements transmitted with the prior express permission of the recipient. The FCC also granted retroactive waivers to parties that were reasonably uncertain about whether the opt-out notice requirement applied to faxes sent with prior express permission from the recipient. The FCC further stated that individual retroactive waivers may be extended to similarly situated parties that seek waiver requests prior to April 30, 2015.

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