FCC Rules One-Time Text Confirmation Does Not Violate TCPA

Summary

Ruling ensures companies are free to send consumers, from whom they have obtained prior express consent, a final, one-time text to confirm the consumers’ opt-out requests.

Article

The common practice among businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental entities to send consumers a final, one-time text to confirm the consumers’ opt-out requests was upheld by the Federal Communications Commission.  The announcement was made on November 29th in a Declaratory Ruling, which the FCC uses to clarify legislation, in response to a request by SoundBite Communications, Inc. 

In February, SoundBite filed a petition seeking guidance because the issue is not addressed in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.  SoundBite sends text messages on behalf of other companies that have acquired prior express consent to send texts to wireless subscribers.  The petition noted that wireless carriers and other groups require companies to follow the Mobile Marketing Association’s best practices, which includes the opt-out confirmation texts.

The Commission found that the small costs the texts may place on consumers do not outweigh the benefits and protection of a one-time text confirmation that helps to ensure the consumers’ opt-out requests are received.  Furthermore, the FCC concluded that a one-time text confirmation will “promote the TCPA’s goals of protecting consumer privacy and promoting public safety.”

The FCC stressed that the ruling only applies in situations where the sender of the text messages has obtained prior express consent from the consumers to send text messages using an automatic telephone dialing system, as required under the TCPA.

Conclusion:

Companies no longer need to worry about complying with either industry best practices standards or the TCPA.  The FCC has found that consumers’ prior express consent to receive text messages from a company can be reasonably interpreted to include consent to receive a final, one-time text message that confirms the consumers’ opt-out requests.

Notes

The full ruling can be found at:  transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2012/db1129/FCC-12-143A1.pdf.