There’s a disease out there folks, and it is spreading.
The Florida Telephone Solicitation Act (FTSA) introduced a definition of autodialer that had never been seen before: a system that automatically dials or selects numbers to be called. This definition was SPECIFICALLY adopted to sweep so-called “click to dial” systems within the purview of the regulation and to make it impossible to dial at scale without the use of a human selection system, or express written consent.
While the Florida legislature flirted with modifying the bill, it ultimately kept the current language–which was later adopted by Oklahoma.
Well the formerly great state of Maryland has decided to jump on the bandwagon and has proposed its own Mini-TCPA. Unlike the jumbled mess of the FTSA or the comprehensive tome of Michigan, the Maryland bill is an elegant proposal designed to prevent spoofing along with unconsented marketing calls.
Here are the key things you need to know:
If passed, the Maryland Stop the Spam Calls Act of 2023 would require express written consent–consistent with the federal rules–for any prerecorded or automated marketing call;
The definition of autodialer is extremely broad and mirrors Florida’s focus on a system that EITHER selects or dials numbers–and randomizer or number generator is NOT required to be used;
“Telephone solicitation” means an organized activity, program, or campaign to communicate by telephone with residents of Maryland in order to:
(i) sell, lease, or rent goods or services;
(ii) attempt to sell, lease, or rent goods or services;
(iii) offer or attempt to offer a gift or prize;
(iv) conduct or attempt to conduct a poll; or
(v) request or attempt to request survey information, if the results of the survey will be used directly to solicit persons to purchase, lease, or rent goods or services.
There are tightly worded exceptions for non-profits and B2B calls–read them carefully before relying on them.
A violation of the Act constitutes an unlawful business practice under the state’s unlawful business practices Act, authorizing civil penalties of up to $2,500 per violation!
The bill would also copy Florida’s limitation of 3 attempts every 24 hours and would shut down calls at 8 pm in the call party’s timezone–this appears to INCLUDE CALLS MADE WITH CONSENT!
The bill is officially designated HB 0037 cross-filed with SB009. The first reading was 1/11/23 and the proposed effective date is 10/01/23.
We’ll keep a close eye on this!
For now you can read the bill here: Maryland – Stop the Spam Calls Act