New Text Message Advertising Laws
“Too many telemarketers, aided by auto-dialers and pre-recorded messages, have continued to call consumers who don’t want to hear from them,” began FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, upon announcing a new set of FCC marketing regulations set to be enacted this year.
Last Wednesday, February 15, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a whopper of a telemarketing rule change. The new statues will take affect after publication in the Federal Registrar, which usually takes between two to six months.
Every online advertiser should run, not walk, to ensure they’re in compliance with these new text message advertising statutes, as the FCC does not mess around when it comes to initiating investigations. And if they find you guilty, you could be looking down the barrel of a quarter million dollar fine.
So what are these new, possibly marketing-channel-killing, rules? It’s all outlined below.
New FCC Robocall and Text Message Advertising Laws
Simply stated, the new FCC robocall and text message advertising laws make it illegal for telemarketers to place calls or send texts without express written consent from the consumer. Additionally, People must always be given an opportunity to opt-out – even after opting-in.
The new FCC statues only apply to telemarketers – public schools, pharmacies and politicians still have carte blanche to robocall and text unsolicited messages to their heart’s content.
The FCC is urging private citizens to use the “do-not-call” list as protection in the event of a rogue robocall or text message.
Major Changes From The Old Telemarketing Laws
The major change is the elimination of the “preexisting business” provision. Under the new laws, marketers cannot claim “implied consent” simply because a consumer had previously done business with a given entity.
Another notable change is that automated text messages now join the legal-ranks of automatically dialed and prerecorded telephone messages.
What The New FCC Text Message Advertising Laws Mean For Internet and Mobile Advertisers
So, what does this all mean for you ninjas of Internet and affiliate marketing?
Perhaps most importantly, you should be aware that the new rules could potentially kill some “offer paths” — depending on how you choose to set up the required business processes.
Super-safe compliance would mean an opt-in notice at the top of the transaction. That being said, the laws are still brand new and untested – so you may be able to get away with a checkbox of acceptance right before the point where one would have to, say, enter their phone number.
Your best bet is to contact an Internet lawyer well-versed in FCC and FTC regulations for counsel. This law change is a major one, and you don’t want to get caught with your pants down.
A Final Warning About The New FCC Text Message Advertising Laws
If you use text messaging as a marketing tool, get in touch with an online advertising lawyer today. This law change is not to be ignored – getting caught could cost you your business. After the new telemarketing laws are published in the Federal Registrar, you’ll have 12 months to establish a written consent process and only 90 days to implement an interactive opt-out mechanism for any automated text-message ads you send.
The sentence “Any type of phone call or text to a wireless device needs written consent,” which was spoken by an FCC representative at the announcement, should be on the top of every online advertiser’s mind.
Want to make sure you’re implementing the new FCC text message advertising standards correctly? Contact Aaron Kelly – an Internet lawyer who has a special talent for identifying the “tech” in “technicality.”
May 2014 Update: The Federal Communications Commission announced its plans to move ahead with net neutrality rules. The comment and review period is expected to last several months. Since the publication of the article below, the FCC submitted 2 drafts, which the courts rejected. But, as they say, the third times the charm, and after the addition of a provision that prohibits ISPs from slowing or blocking connections, the courts gave their stamp of approval. In theory, the compromise sounds fair — but in reality, all that means is that a faster Internet will be upon us soon, and entities with tons of money can pay to access it, while those that can’t — won’t. It could have a harrowing effect on small businesses.
****** Original 2011 Article Below *******
“Net neutrality,” warns Senator Al Franken (D-MN), “is the most important free speech issue of our time.”
In recent months, Rep. Franken and several public interest groups, ranging from the far-left MoveOn.org to the far-right Gun Owners of America, have been speaking out about a set of rules put forth by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which aim to secure fair internet usage and protect against a monopolistic takeover of the Web.
The FCC’s guidelines are commonly known as Net neutrality principles.
While an in-depth analysis of Net neutrality requires a deep understanding of abstract technical practices like “deep packet inspection” and “last mile throttling,” the fundamental debate is simple. Proponents of Net neutrality contend that the lifting or softening of Internet regulations will usher in a new, fascist-like era, wherein the free press would be obliterated; opponents of Net neutrality measures, on the other hand, affirm that internet deregulation will create more competition and ultimately benefit consumers.
The Net Neutrality Opponents’ Argument
It takes a meaty issue to bring the likes of MoveOn.org and the Christian Coalition together; but if the Cassandra-esque predictions are accurate, it is likely that this debate will encourage a lot of cross-aisle hand-holding over the next few years.
Adversaries of Internet neutrality fear that an unregulated Web would result in:
- Sky-high Internet bills due to the inevitable rise of three information-super-companies: Comcast/NBC, Disney/ABC/AT & T, and Verizon/CBS, which are predicted to collude at a high price point.
- Priority service to those who can afford to pay the most, i.e., corporate media conglomerates. The theory follows that a tiered internet determined by financial considerations would devolve into widespread information discrimination, and corporate-controlled news sites would receive internet traffic priority over Average Joe’s Blog.
The Net Neutrality Proponents’ Argument
At this point, proponents of Net neutrality are keeping their long-term plans under wraps, instead choosing to simply discredit the opposition’s claims for the time being. As one would expect, telecommunication and media companies are leading the charge to push through Net neutrality rules.
Netflix: A Real World Case Study
If telecommunication and media corporations win the Net neutrality war, Netflix could be among the most notable causalities.
Currently, it costs the average person about $10 a month to belong to Netflix’s movie streaming service. If Net neutrality rules are overturned, cable companies, who also own the internet wiring infrastructure, could legally charge Netflix an extortionist’s rate to connect to the Internet. Naturally, the price hike imposed on Netflix would translate into higher costs for end users.
What happens then?
Net neutrality activists predict that telecommunications companies will force a situation in which the $7 on-demand movies, available via your cable box, will end up being cheaper than a Netflix account, which would effectively put Netflix out of business.
The Internet neutrality debate is in its nascent stages, but beginning to heat up. Last week, telecommunications giant Verizon Communications fired the game-starting gun by filing a legal action in the deregulation-friendly D.C. District Circuit Court, which, in the past, ruled against the FCC in favor of Comcast Communications.
Over the next two years, expect to hear a lot of lobbying from both camps; keep abreast of the topic, because Net neutrality is an issue which could alter the way average citizens access and interact on the Web.
If you are looking for Net neutrality legal advice, be sure to consult an attorney who is well versed in both regulatory law and technology. A good Internet lawyer usually meets both of these criteria.
As expected by many people in legal circles, Verizon has filed a challenge to the recent Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net Neutrality Report and Order on regulations dealing with. The suit, which the corporation filed on January 20, 2011 in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, takes issue with the FCC’s claim to broad authority over broadband networks and the Internet. The order places specific restrictions on mobile broadband providers and fixed broadband providers that Verizon contends exceed the scope of FCC’s jurisdiction.
Why Verizon Filed Their Net Neutrality Lawsuit In A DC Appeals Court
Verizon’s decision to file its challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is anything but random. This is the very same appeals court that sided with communications giant Comcast against the FCC in a case regarding discrimination against network traffic. Verizon chose to file in this particular court in the hopes of enjoying an advantage in its uphill legal challenge.
In order to justify its decision to file its appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Verizon contended that the net neutrality guidelines concern the modification of FCC licenses. Those types of cases — the ones that involve license modifications — are always handled by this particular court. Had Verizon filed its appeal in any one of the many other courts that are available, its odds of success would have been greatly diminished.
FCC Powers Anchor Net Neutrality Debate
The biggest issue facing Verizon in its appeal concerns the jurisdiction and regulatory powers of the FCC. The FCC was created by the Communications Act of 1934, which gave the Commission strong regulatory powers. The Act charged the FCC with regulating international and interstate communications by satellite, television, wire, radio and cable, many of the systems essential to Verizon operations. Naturally, onlookers are wondering whether the legal challenge will give rise to additional lawsuits that could ultimately strip a great deal of power from the FCC.
What Net Neutrality Would Mean For Verizon (& You)
Net neutrality opponents believe that the existence of the FCC dooms networks and providers to failure, which is largely why Verizon has acted expediently against the new order. Under the network neutrality order, three significant rules go into effect.
- Mobile and fixed broadband providers must be utterly transparent about their network management practices.
- Net neutrality rules forbid fixed broadband providers from blocking in general; mobile broadband providers may block applications but not competitive services.
- Fixed broadband providers may not engage in unreasonable discrimination; mobile broadband providers, on the other hand, must justify any discrimination that they use.
People in favor of net neutrality believe it will keep the Internet free and open. However, opponents have grave concerns about the need for stricter controls over things like spam and malicious servers. Under net neutrality rules, broadband providers will have diminished capabilities for handling such issues. In turn, the Internet-using public may be subjected to greater security risks and other problems.
Speak With An Internet Lawyer
While the FCC’s net neutrality order released in December 2010 and Verizon’s subsequent appeal are generating a great deal of buzz, it’s still early in the game. Ultimately, the court’s decision in the Verizon challenge will largely dictate the direction in which this issue will go. The legal community, communications industry and free internet advocates will be watching this case with interest.
For more information about how the net neutrality rules will affect you, contact a qualified Internet lawyer.