Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau issued an advisory reminding political campaigns about the restrictions placed on the use of autodialed calls, prerecorded calls, and text messages by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and the FCC’s corresponding rules. The Enforcement Bureau warns that it is “closely monitoring this space” and will “rigorously enforce the important consumer protections in the TCPA and [the FCC’s] corresponding rules.”
The advisory summarizes four key restrictions on political calls:
1. Political prerecorded calls or autodialed calls to cell phones and other mobile services are prohibited unless made with the “prior express consent” of the recipient.
- This restriction applies to autodialed live voice calls, prerecorded calls, and text messages.
- Callers contending that they have the “prior express consent” to make such calls have the burden of proof to show that they obtained the requisite form of consent.
2. Political prerecorded calls or autodialed calls to certain types of landline phones are prohibited unless made with the “prior express consent” of the recipient.
These restrictions apply to the following types of landline phones:
- emergency telephone lines, including any 911 line and any emergency line of a hospital, medical physician or service office, health care facility, poison control center, or fire protection or law enforcement agency;
- telephone lines in guest or patient rooms at a hospital, nursing home, or similar establishment; or
- any service for which the recipient is charged for the call, such as a toll-free line.
3. Political prerecorded calls must include certain identification information about the caller.
All prerecorded calls must include the following:
- At the beginning of the message: the identity of the business, individual, or other entity that is responsible for initiating the call. If a business or other corporate entity is responsible for the call, the recording must contain that entity’s official business name (meaning the name registered with a state corporate commission or other regulatory authority).
- During or after the message: the telephone number of such business, individual, or other entity. The telephone number may not be for (1) the autodialer or prerecorded message player that placed the call, (2) a 900 number, or (3) any other number for which charges exceed local or long distance transmission charges.
4. Automatic telephone dialing systems that deliver prerecorded calls must release the recipient’s telephone line within five seconds after the recipient has hung up.
- In addition, an automatic telephone dialing system may not be used in a way that simultaneously engages two or more telephone lines of a multi-line business.