The Telephone Consumer Protection Act limits the use of autodialed calls or texts and prerecorded voice calls (all of which are sometimes called "robocalls"). The TCPA and the FCC's rules do apply to political campaign-related calls or texts. These restrictions vary based upon whether a call is delivered to a landline telephone, a cell phone, or certain protected telephone lines (e.g., emergency or toll-free lines, or lines serving hospitals or similar facilities).
Political campaign-related autodialed or prerecorded voice calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded voice messages, and text messages) are:
- Not allowed to cell phones, pagers, or other mobile devices without the called party's prior express consent.
- Not allowed to protected phone lines such as emergency or toll-free lines, or lines serving hospitals or similar facilities, unless made with the called party's prior express consent.
- Allowed when made to landline telephones, even without prior express consent.
Robotexts are text messages generated through autodialing. Under the TCPA, these are considered a type of call and fall under all the robocall rules. As text messages generally go to mobile phones, they require the called party's prior express consent if they are generated using autodialing.
All prerecorded voice message calls, campaign-related and otherwise, must include certain identification information:
- the identity of the business, individual, or other entity initiating the call (and if a business or corporate entity, the entity's official business name) must be stated clearly at the beginning of the message; and
- the telephone number of the calling party must be provided either during or after the message.
This spotlight is a summary of the Commission's rules; interested parties should consult the Commission's rules and Order for the full requirements. The relevant rule, 47 CFR 64.1200 can be found at: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?rgn=div6&node=47:188.8.131.52.11.12.
The Order establishing the rule can be found at: https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-03-153A1.pdf.