FCC Declaratory Judgment Regarding School Districts' Use of Robocalls
On August 4, 2016, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a declaratory judgment and statement regarding use of robocalls and automatic text messages by educational organization with respect to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Included is the FCC's Declaratory Ruling.
Nelson Mullins has reviewed this Ruling and is providing you with this legal update to assist you in your compliance.
This ruling focuses on "robocalls" which encompass artificial or prerecorded voice calls to a residential telephone as well as calls or texts to a wireless phone using an autodialer, artificial voice, or prerecorded voice. Pursuant to the ruling, the FCC confirms that school callers may lawfully make such calls and texts without consent in two circumstances: 1) in emergency situations; and 2) for messages that are closely related to a school's mission.
With regard to the first circumstance, the FCC rules define an emergency for TCPA purposes as "any situation affecting the health and safety of consumers." In such situations, autodialed calls or texts do not require consent from the party receiving the message. The FCC provided several examples of calls and messages that fall into this emergency category. While not an exhaustive list, examples include messages regarding weather closures; incidents of threats and/or imminent danger to the school due to fire, dangerous persons, or health risks; and messages regarding a student's unexcused absences.
With regard to the second circumstance, the FCC confirms that school callers may use autodialed calls or texts for messages closely related to a school's mission when recipients of such messages have provided their number to the school. Examples of such messages falling into this category include notifications of teacher conferences and messages regarding general school activities.
Furthermore, the FCC Ruling confirmed that schools are subject to certain TCPA requirements when placing robocalls, such allowing opt-out by recipients and being proactive in updating contact information for instance, in a case where a phone number has been reassigned.
If you have any questions or if Nelson Mullins can assist you with compliance in these areas, please let us know.
The articles published in this newsletter are intended only to provide general information on the subjects covered. The contents should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Readers should consult with legal counsel to obtain specific legal advice based on particular situations.