Yesterday, a complaint was filed in a Minnesota federal district court against Bernie 2020 Inc. (“the Sanders Campaign”), alleging that the Sanders Campaign transmitted automated text messages to mobile telephone numbers without the “prior express consent” of their recipients in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).

The complaint alleges that at least two individuals who had not previously consented to receive text messages from the Sanders Campaign received automated messages encouraging them to click a link to view a campaign advertisement on YouTube.  The complaint states that automated text messages sent by or on behalf of political campaigns are not exempt from TCPA requirements, and it cites FCC guidance to this effect.  The complaint argues that class action certification is appropriate and seeks statutory damages of up to $1500 per unlawful message.

The complaint follows on the heels of a Memorandum Opinion and Order issued by another Minnesota federal district court on June 8, 2020, denying a motion to dismiss filed by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (“the Trump Campaign”) in a lawsuit alleging that the Trump Campaign transmitted unsolicited automated text messages to mobile telephone numbers in violation of the TCPA.  The allegations in that case were that the Trump Campaign sent text messages inviting recipients to attend a political rally and to click on a link for tickets or take some other action.

In the Memorandum Opinion and Order, the court found that the plaintiffs had sufficiently alleged an injury in fact, that a plausible connection existed between the Trump Campaign and the unlawful text messages, and that the TCPA violations as alleged were sufficient to survive the Trump Campaign’s motion to dismiss.  The Trump Campaign sought to compel arbitration vis-à-vis one of the plaintiffs on the grounds that he consented to receive text messages and to arbitrate any dispute, but the court denied this contention on the grounds that the Trump Campaign failed to carry its burden, noting the possibility that the plaintiff’s name and mobile telephone number could have been entered into the Trump Campaign’s database without his authorization and leaving these issues for discovery.

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Photo of Yaron Dori Yaron Dori

Yaron Dori has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection law, advising telecom, technology, life sciences, media and other types of companies on their most pressing business challenges. He is a former chair of the Communications and Media practice…

Yaron Dori has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection law, advising telecom, technology, life sciences, media and other types of companies on their most pressing business challenges. He is a former chair of the Communications and Media practice group and currently serves as a member of the firm’s eight-person Management Committee.

Yaron’s practice focuses on strategic planning, policy development, transactions, investigations and enforcement, and regulatory compliance.

He represents clients before federal regulatory agencies—including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)—and the U.S. Congress in connection with a range of policy issues under the Communications Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act, and similar statutes. He also represents clients on state regulatory and enforcement matters, including those that pertain to telecommunications and data privacy regulation. His unique experience in telecommunications, privacy, and consumer protection enables him to advise clients on key business issues in which these areas intersect.

With respect to telecommunications matters, Yaron advises clients on a broad range of business, policy and consumer-facing issues, including:

  • Broadband deployment and regulation;
  • IP-enabled applications, services and content;
  • Equipment and device authorization procedures;
  • The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA);
  • Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) requirements;
  • The Cable Privacy Act
  • Net Neutrality; and
  • Local competition, universal service, and intercarrier compensation.

Yaron also has extensive experience in structuring transactions and securing regulatory approvals at both the federal and state levels for mergers, asset acquisitions and similar transactions involving large and small FCC and state licensees.

With respect to privacy and consumer protection matters, Yaron advises clients on a range of business, strategic, policy and compliance issues, including those that pertain to:

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA);
  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA);
  • Location-based services that use WiFi, beacons or similar technologies;
  • Online Behavioral Advertising;
  • Online advertising practices, including native advertising and endorsements and testimonials; and
  • The application of federal and state telemarketing, commercial fax, and other consumer protection laws, such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), to voice, text, and video transmissions.

Yaron also has experience advising companies on FCC (Enforcement Bureau), FTC and state attorney general investigations into various consumer protection and communications matters, including those pertaining to social media influencers, digital disclosures, product discontinuance, and advertising claims.