This post was co-written by Randy Sifers.

In February, the FCC adopted several changes to its telemarketing rules, including a new requirement that telemarketers must receive express written consent to send certain autodialed or prerecorded message calls. On June 11, the FCC’s order was published in the Federal Register. The Federal Register summary is available here.

As a result, the new rules will take effect beginning July 11, 2012. As explained after the jump, some of the rules will not take effect until OMB approves the new recordkeeping requirements. Nevertheless, publication in the Federal Register starts the clock for appeals and petitions for reconsideration of the rules.


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Usually without much fanfare, the FCC goes about the business of adjudicating slamming complaints under its TPV rules.  This latest case underscores that the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau continues to strictly enforce the content requirements for confirmation of carrier change orders.  This time, it emphasized that the rules require confirmation of a carrier change, not just a change to the customer’s service.  Carriers should periodically review their verification scripts to ensure that they satisfy this increasingly literal standard applied by the FCC.


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 As required by a recent act of Congress, the FCC opened a proceeding to create a Do-Not-Call registry to allow public safety answering points ("PSAPs") to register telephone numbers associated with the provision of their emergency telephone services.  Once the registry is established, telemarketers would be prohibited from using automatic telephone dialing systems to place

As we’ve noted previously, the U.S. Department of Justice has urged the FCC to take an expansive interpretation of the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009.  In comments filed last week, the Department continued its effort to have the FCC apply the rules to VoIP providers, including those not subject to any FCC rules today.

Last week brought new actions in three of the FCC’s most common enforcement areas:  Failure to pay USF contributions, "robocall" telemarketing violations and "junk fax" solicitations.  One action also is an example of anti-spoofing enforcement by the Commission.  The Commission’s actions are briefly described below.


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In response to the passage of anti-spoofing legislation late last year, the FCC recently adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to tighten rules relating to the "spoofing" of caller ID information.  The Commission is seeking comments in late April and early May, which would make it tough for the Commission to meet the legislation’s six-month deadline for the adoption of implementing rules.

The NPRM contains a surprising proposal to bypass the ordinary enforcement processes the Commission uses.  See below for that and other highlights of the proposal.


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In late December, Congress passed new Anti-Spoofing legislation.  As we told you at the time, the Act requires the FCC to enact implementing regulations within 6 months.  In anticipation of that rulemaking, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division submitted a letter to the FCC with its recommendations for the regulations.

The DOJ letter is described in more detail below.  Most notably, DOJ recommends verification obligations be imposed on providers of spoofing services and proposes an expansive definition of "IP-enabled Voice Service" that would impose obligations on services heretofore not subject to FCC regulations.  If the FCC agrees, new classes of entities would be subject to compliance obligations relating to Caller ID spoofing.


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Last month, the FTC issued an “Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” seeking comments on whether and how to strengthen the Caller ID provisions of its Telemarketing Sales Rule. The Rule presently requires telemarketers to provide Caller ID information to allow consumers to screen out unwanted calls. The FTC seeks comments on how to make Caller ID more useful to consumers and combat technologies that hide telemarketers’ identities. Currently, the Caller ID regulations give telemarketers flexibility in determining what telephone numbers to transmit, and in determining whether the name of the telemarketer, or the name of the seller or charity, is displayed on Caller ID services.


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Two developments last month portend a more difficult time for entities "spoofing" caller ID information.  On December 22, President Obama signed into law the Truth in Caller ID Act of 2009 [sic], which makes it unlawful for a person to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with an intent to defraud.  In addition, the FTC is seeking comment on rule changes to strengthen the caller ID provisions of its Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR). 

Descriptions of both developments are provided below.


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Even though this blog covers telecom litigation and enforcement, this is the first post about a formal complaint brought before the FCC. Among the reasons are that the FCC does not handle many formal complaints these days (it had only 10 docketed cases in all of 2009), and decisions on the merits are few and far between. But a decision issued last week caught our attention. In the decision, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau took a narrow view of the Telephone Consumers Protection Act (“TCPA”).

The Enforcement Bureau held that unsolicited calls to a consumer were not TCPA violations because the messages were intended for current customers, not as solicitations to obtain new customers. Moreover, the telemarketer’s mistake in directing the calls to a non-customer did not make the calls actionable. This decision will make it harder for a consumer to prove a violation when communications are intended for current customers.


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