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April Compliance News Roundup

Watering white yellow daffodils, spring sunshine and waterdrops

Posted by Chris Alarie on Mon, 05/02/2022 - 11:44

The world of marketing compliance is complex and fast-paced. Sometimes important news and developments can be missed. This post collects some of the most important news of the past month that we have not yet covered.

Washington Passes New State Telemarketing Amendments

On March 31, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed new amendments into law that update the state’s telemarketing regulations. The bill, HB 1497, shortens the hours when telemarketing is permitted to 8:00 am to 8:00 pm, imposes new identification and opt-out requirements for the first 30 seconds of telephone solicitations, requires calls be ended within 10 seconds of a request by the called party, expands the definition of what kinds of calls are considered telephone solicitations, and expands the definition of telephone solicitation to include calls to non-residential telephone customers. These changes will take effect on June 9, 2022.

This is the less significant of two telemarketing laws that the Washington legislature had introduced during its recently concluded legislative session. The other, which failed to pass before the March 30 deadline, would have been a much more comprehensive overhaul similar to Florida’s mini-TCPA from last year.

FCC Announces New Proposed Robocall Rules for May Meeting

On April 27, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced the agenda for the FCC’s May 19 open meeting. The top item is proposed rules for gateway providers to limit international scam robocalls. If the rules are adopted at the May 19 meeting, they “would require gateway providers to participate in robocall mitigation, including blocking efforts, take responsibility for illegal robocall campaigns on their networks, cooperate with FCC enforcement efforts, and quickly respond to efforts to trace illegal robocalls to their source.” While these rules ostensibly should not affect legitimate callers, it is still another piece of the FCC’s approach to preventing illegal robocalls that has possible detrimental effects for the call deliverability efforts of legitimate callers.

Sohn’s Confirmation Remains Stalled

Back in October of last year, President Joe Biden nominated Jessica Rosenworcel to a permanent term as FCC Chair and Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant fifth Commissioner spot. While Rosenworcel’s nomination was confirmed without much fuss, Sohn’s has been stalled. More than five months later, Sohn has not yet been confirmed. Moreover, her confirmation seems less likely than it had been when she was first nominated.

Lobbyists affiliated with the telecom industry are running anti-Sohn ad campaigns targeting battleground states for key Democratic Senators such as Catherine Cortez Mastro of Nevada and Mark Kelly of Arizona. They are also targeting West Virginia, home of conservative Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The main group behind these ad campaigns is headed by former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp. While Sohn has somewhat unexpectedly received the support of the president of the right wing One America News Network, the fact that she is being attacked by groups affiliated with her own party make her path to confirmation difficult.

This situation is unusual as FCC confirmations are usually routine. It remains to be seen if Sohn will ever be confirmed or if President Biden will eventually nominate someone else who is not opposed by the telecom industry.

Court Rules That “STOP” Text Terminates an EBR

The Southern District of Ohio Court ruled on a motion in Laguardia v. – Designer Brands Inc. that a text message reading “STOP” was enough to terminate an existing business relationship (EBR). This is notable as the EBR exemption is an important defense for Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) cases alleging violations of the do not call (DNC) list.