Mobile Marketing and the TCPA
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  • 1. Mobile Marketing and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act By Marie Scheibert, Esq. January 8, 2010
  • 2. Overview of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA")   47 U.S.C. § 227
  • 3.
    •  
      • Enacted in 1991. 
    •  
      • Designed to protect consumers from "nuisance and privacy invasion" from  unwanted marketing calls. 
    •  
      • Authorizes the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") to create implementing rules and regulations.
    •  
  • 4.
    • Summary of Key Provisions
    •  
      • Prohibits the use of autodialers to call mobile numbers absent the recipient's prior express consent.
    •  
      • Prohibits the sending of unsolicited faxes unless certain conditions are met.
    •  
      • Authorizes the creation of a national "Do Not Call" list. 
    •  
      • Restricts calls to residential telephone lines. 
  • 5.
    • Enforcement & Litigation
    •  
      • The FCC and the FTC each administer and enforce various aspects of the TCPA.  State attorney generals also have enforcement authority.  
    •  
      • Private plaintiffs have the right to sue for violations.  Remedies include penalties of $500 per violation or actual damages, whichever is greater.  Treble damages are available for willful or knowing violations.
    •  
      • Many TCPA suits are brought as class actions.  
  • 6.  
  • 7.
    • Section 227(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the TCPA prohibits:
      • any call    
      • made without prior express consent 
      • using any automatic telephone dialing system
      • to any number assigned to a mobile service
  • 8.
    • Does a text message qualify as a "call" under the TCPA?
  • 9.
    • A growing consensus of authorities agree that a text message is a "call" within the meaning of the TCPA.  
  • 10.
    • A call under the TCPA "encompasses both voice calls and text calls to wireless numbers, including, for example, short message service (SMS) calls." 
    •  
    • - FCC Report & Order dated July 3, 2003
  • 11. A text message is a "call" within the meaning of the TCPA.    - Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 569 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2009)   - Abbas v. Selling Source, LLC, 2009 WL 4884471 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 14, 2009)   - Joffe v. Acacia Mortgage Corp., 121 P.3d 831 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2005)
  • 12.
    • What constitutes a recipient's "prior express consent" to receive text messages?
  • 13. Consumer consent to receive promotional text messages must be explicit and unambiguous. 
  • 14.
    • Example: 
    • Company A and Company B are not commonly controlled.  Instead, they have a direct or indirect contractual relationship.  Consumer agrees to receive messages from Company A and its "affiliates and brands."  Company B sends Consumer a message promoting its products that says it is "Powered by Company A."  Consumer has not consented to receive text messages from Company B.  
    • - Satterfield, 569 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2009)
  • 15. Mobile marketing practice tips:  - Carefully tailor opt-in consent language. - Obtain indemnification against liability for lack of express consent when using mobile marketing lists from third party vendors.
  • 16.
    • What is an "automatic telephone dialing system"?
  • 17.
    • The term "automatic telephone dialing system" means equipment which has the capacity --
    • (A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and 
    • (B) to dial such numbers.
    • 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1)
  • 18.
    • In evaluating whether the equipment used to send a text message qualifies as an "automatic telephone dialing system" under the TCPA, courts focus on the equipment's capacity to be used as an autodialer. 
  • 19.
    • "A system need not actually store, produce, or call randomly or sequentially generated telephone numbers, it need only have the capacity to do so."
    •  
    • - Satterfield, 569 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2009)
    •  
    • - Abbas, 2009 WL 4884471 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 14, 2009) (following Satterfield)
    •  
  • 20.  
  • 21. Photo Credits
    • Slide 3: Old Bakelit phone by aussiegal
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/aussiegall/279804967/
    •  
    • Slide 6: Texting by kamshots
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kamshots/204036348/
    • Slide 8: business-arin-texting-LA by arincrumley
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/arincrumley/2496775990/
    •  
    • Slide 12: Looking over your shoulder by Inanimatt
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/matt-lazycat/3465895355/
    • Slide 16: Silver and Gold - Charles Babbage's Difference Engine by odditty
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bubba88xw/3737229915/  
    • Slide 20: kiwanja_kenya_texting_17 by Ken Banks, http://www.kiwanja.net/
    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiwanja/3169447879/
    •  
  • 22. Resources                                              
    • FCC Telemarketing Policy page:
    • http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/policy/telemarketing.html
    • Text of the TCPA:
    • http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/policy/TCPA-Rules.pdf
    •  
    • FCC Telemarketing Rules: 
    • http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/policy/Telemarketing-Rules.pdf
    •  
    • Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Inc., 569 F.3d 946 (9th Cir. 2009)
    • http://www.scribd.com/doc/24961012/Satterfield-v-Simon-Schuster
    •  
    • Abbas v. Selling Source, LLC, 2009 WL 4884471 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 14, 2009)
    • http://www.scribd.com/doc/24961214/Abbas-v-Selling-Source-LLC
    • Joffe v. Acacia Mortgage Corp., 121 P.3d 831 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2005)
    • http://www.scribd.com/doc/24961140/Joffe-v-Acacia-Mortgage
    •  
    •  
  • 23. Disclaimer                                                         
    • The law changes often.  No representations are made about the accuracy of the information contained in this presentation which may be incomplete, incorrect, or out-of-date.  
    •  
    • This presentation is for general informational purposes only and is not legal advice.  The evaluation of legal issues always depends on specific facts and circumstances.  This presentation should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney. 
    •  
    • Your use of this presentation does not create an attorney-client relationship.  Please do not send me any confidential information by email or otherwise as your communication will not be privileged and may be disclosed to other persons.
  • 24. Contact                                                   
    • Twitter: @MarieScheibert
    • Blog: www.internetlawbits.com
    • Email: marie [at] internetlawbits [dot] com
    •  
    • © marie scheibert