Just ahead of the holiday rush, when advertising campaigns – both real and fake – kick into high gear, the FCC on Friday sent out a reminder to would-be spammers reminding them so called “robotexts” are subject to the same restrictions and enforcement actions as robocalls.
According to a public notice distributed by the Commission, “text messages sent to cell phones using any automatic telephone dialing system are subject to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.” The FCC said the TCPA places clear limits on autodialed calls and texts to wireless numbers, as well as emergency numbers, lines at hospital rooms, health care facilities, elder homes, or similar establishments. The TCPA also restricts the sending of calls or texts for which the receiving party is billed.
Additionally, and importantly, the FCC said, the TCPA requires consent from the receiving party.
“The TCPA prohibits autodialed calls or text messages, as well as prerecorded calls, unless made with the prior express consent of the called party, to any telephone number assigned to a cell phone or other mobile device (such as a pager), unless the calls or text messages are: (1) made for emergency purposes; (2) free to the end user and have been exempted by the Commission, subject to conditions prescribed to protect consumer privacy rights; or (3) made solely to collect debts “owed to or guaranteed by the United States,” the Commission wrote.
With the holidays right around the corner, the FCC made it clear it is planning to crack down on any robotext abuses. Violators, it said, will initially receive a warning citation and subsequently be subject to forfeiture penalties of up to $18,936 per violation.
“The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will rigorously enforce the important consumer protections in the TCPA and our corresponding rules. We expect this Advisory will facilitate compliance with the law and rules by those who initiate robotexts to mobile devices,” the FCC wrote.
The move comes amidst the FCC’s increased efforts to battle robocalls via a new robocall strike force. Made up of 33 industry partners – including all four tier-1 carriers, Apple, Google, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, and others – the group is tasked with developing and executing an action plan to cut down on the number of robocalls received by consumers each year.
Filed Under: Industry regulations