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 (FCC) announced plans to move ahead with net neutrality rules, but the comment and review period is expected to last several months.
Since the original publication of the article below, the FCC submitted two drafts, which the courts summarily rejected. But, as they say, the third times the charm. After adding a provision that prohibits ISPs from slowing or blocking connections, the courts waved it through.
****** Original 2011 Article *******
“Net neutrality,” warned 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 FCC that 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: Should Internet service providers (ISPs) be allowed to charge websites for a “fast lane” on the country’s online infrastructure?
The Net Neutrality Proponents’ Argument
It takes a meaty issue to bring the likes of MoveOn.org and the Christian Coalition together; but if the predictions prove accurate, this issue will likely encourage a lot of cross-aisle hand-holding over the next few years.
Proponents of Internet neutrality fear that an unregulated Web would result in:
- Sky-high Internet bills because companies like Comcast/NBC, Disney/ABC/AT & T, and Verizon/CBS can collude at a high price point.
- Priority service to those who can afford to pay the most (i.e., corporate media conglomerates). The theory: a tiered Internet, determined by financial considerations, would devolve into widespread information discrimination, and corporate-controlled news sites would receive traffic priority over Average Joe’s Blog.
The Net Neutrality Opponents’ Argument
At this point, opponents of Net neutrality seem to be keeping their long-term plans under wraps, instead choosing to discredit the opposition’s claims when asked about their stance.
Netflix: A Potential 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 the 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 heating up. Last week, telecommunications giant Verizon Communications fired the starting gun by filing a legal action in the deregulation-friendly D.C. District Circuit Court.
Over the next two years, expect to hear a lot of lobbying from both camps. And be sure to keep abreast of the topic, because Net Neutrality is an issue which could alter the way average citizens access the Web.
If you are looking for Net neutrality legal advice, be sure to consult an attorney well versed in both regulatory law and technology.
As expected, Verizon filed a challenge to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Net Neutrality Report and order. The suit questions the FCC’s authority over broadband networks and the Internet.
Why Verizon Filed Their Net Neutrality Lawsuit In A DC Appeals Court
Verizon’s decision to file in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia is anything but random. A bench with a corporate-friendly reputation, it’s the same court that sided with communications giant Comcast, against the FCC, in a network traffic discrimination case.
To justify its jurisdictional choice, Verizon held that net neutrality guidelines involve FCC license modifications — an issue always handled by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
FCC Powers Anchor Net Neutrality Debate
Verizon’s main argument: The FCC doesn’t have jurisdictional or regulatory sway over us, with regards to the net neutrality question.
Created by the Communications Act of 1934, the FCC is charged with regulating international and interstate communications by satellite, television, wire, radio, and cable.
What Net Neutrality Would Mean For Verizon (& You)
Under the network neutrality order, three significant rules would go into effect.
- Mobile and fixed broadband providers must be transparent about their network management practices.
- Fixed broadband providers would be forbidden from blocking; mobile broadband providers may block applications, but not competitive services.
- Fixed broadband providers couldn’t engage in unreasonable traffic discrimination.
People in favor of net neutrality believe these rules will keep the Internet free and open. Opponents, however, believe the rules will hamstring broadband providers and make it harder for them to combat spam and malicious servers, ultimately making the Internet less safe.
Speak With An Internet Lawyer
The FCC’s net neutrality order — and Verizon’s subsequent appeal — are generating a great deal of buzz, but it’s still early in the game. 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.