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October 02, 2012

FCC Clarifies Rules for Political Calls: Mobile Phones are Still Off-Limits

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, TMCnet Contributor


Its political calling season and most voters are likely already weary of telephone calls relating to the election. Some callers are even receiving them on their mobile phones, prompting a spike in complaints to the FCC (News - Alert) about the practice.


While political calls (as well as survey and not-for-profit calls) are exempt from the provisions of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) of 1991, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reminding political survey organizations and fundraisers that this applies only to landline phones and not mobile telephones.

The FCC released an Enforcement Advisory in mid-September reminding political organizations that the rules of the TCPA still apply to mobile phones. The advisory was prompted by a request from CTIA (News - Alert) – The Wireless Association, which has reported an uptick in complaints to its carrier members about unwanted political messages being sent to consumers’ mobile phones.

The language of the TCPA regarding mobile phones is this:

“Prerecorded voice messages and autodialed calls (including autodialed live calls, prerecorded or artificial voice messages, and text messages) to cell phones and other mobile services such as paging systems are prohibited, subject to only two exceptions: 1) calls made for emergency purposes, and 2) calls made with the prior express consent of the called party.”

The rules cover prerecorded voice and autodialed political calls, including those sent by non-for-profit organizations. The only non-emergency circumstance under which callers may make prerecorded voice or autodialed calls to cell phones or other mobile devices – having the telephone owner’s permission – puts a burden of proof on political agencies that they have obtained this permission in advance.

Mobile phone owners receiving unwanted political calls for which they have not given permission on their mobile phones are encouraged to file a complaint with the FCC.

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Edited by Brooke Neuman


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