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Rep. Virginia Foxx Seeks to Prohibit Political Robocalls to Numbers on Do-Not-Call Registry

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has introduced a bill, H.R. 740 (the “Robo Calls Off Phones Act” or “Robo COP Act”), to “stop the intrusion of political robocalls in homes across America.” Rep. Foxx stated that “politicians made sure to exempt political robo-calls from the power of the ‘Do Not Call’ registry. If these calls weren’t such a nuisance, their blatant exclusion would be laughable.” Claiming that eligible voters receive more than 20 political prerecorded voice calls per day, Rep. Foxx seeks through the bill to end the “robocall loophole” for politicians.

The Robo COP Act would direct the FTC to revise the Telemarketing Sales Rules, 16 C.F.R. 310.1 (“TSR”). Currently, the TSR prohibits only telephone solicitation calls made for telemarketing purposes, defined to include any “campaign which is conducted to induce the purchase of goods or services or a charitable contribution.”

As revised, the TSR would prohibit calls to telephone numbers listed on the Do-Not-Call registry using prerecorded messages: (i) “the purpose of which is to promote, advertise, campaign, or solicit donations, for or against any political candidate or regarding any political issue;” or (ii) that “use in the recorded message any political candidate’s name.”

Interestingly, the bill does not direct the FCC to revise regulations governing the Do-Not-Call registry that were promulgated under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). During past campaign seasons, the FCC has issued a Public Notice confirming that TCPA restrictions on calls placed to numbers on the Do-Not-Call registry are not applicable to political calls. Unlike violations of the TSR, violations of the TCPA regulations governing the Do-Not-Call registry are subject to the private right of action established under the TCPA and may lead to significant liability, as we recently discussed here. On the other hand, individuals may only pursue violations of the TSR under the private right of action in the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud Abuse Prevention Act, 15 U.S.C. § 6104, which limits private lawsuits to those that “exceed[] the sum or value of $50,000 in actual damages for each person adversely affected by such telemarketing.”

Copyright 2019 K & L Gates

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Pamela Garvie, KL Gates Law Firm, Public Policy Attorney
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Ms. Garvie represents transportation, media, retail, and other business clients before the Congress and federal agencies on issues dealing with economic, safety, and security regulation, advertising and programming restrictions, and taxes and trade.  She also provides customized intelligence and analysis to institutional investors and hedge funds on a broad range of federal legislative and regulatory activities that impact their investments.  Among other matters, she led the firm’s successful efforts to create federal funding programs in rail safety and...

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Andrew Glass, KL Gates Law Firm, Financial Litigation Attorney
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Mr. Glass is a partner resident in K&L Gates’ Boston office, and a member of the firm's Consumer Financial Services Litigation and Class Action Litigation Defense groups, with extensive experience in complex commercial litigation. Mr. Glass's practice focuses on the defense of federal and state class action litigation brought against consumer financial services, mortgage lending, and consumer credit institutions. These class actions concern challenges under federal statutes, including the Fair Housing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Truth in Lending Act, Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, state unfair and deceptive acts and practices statutes, and common law claims. He also represents consumer financial services institutions in government enforcement proceedings and individual litigation matters.

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Joseph C. Wylie II, KL Gates Law Firm, Commercial Litigation Attorney
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Mr. Wylie’s practice focuses on complex class-action defense and complex commercial litigation with a particular emphasis on consumer and securities matters. He represents clients in defending against a wide range of individual and class-action consumer claims, including consumer fraud actions and claims brought under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. He also represents investment advisers and mutual fund families in connection with government investigations and investor claims, including claims made under the Investment Company Act. Mr. Wylie also represents...

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Gregory Blace, KL Gates Law Firm, Class Action Litigation Attorney
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Mr. Blase is a partner in the Boston office of K&L Gates where he is a member of the firm's Class Action Litigation Defense group. Mr. Blase has experience in complex commercial litigation, and has represented mortgage lenders, servicers and other financial institutions in class action and individual suits under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Fair Credit Reporting Act, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Truth in Lending Act, Fair Housing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and various state unfair and deceptive practices...

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Molly K. McGinley, KLGates Law Firm, Complex Litigation Attorney
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Molly K. McGinley concentrates her practice at K&L Gates in commercial litigation with a focus on complex litigation, including investment company litigation, securities litigation and consumer class action defense. Ms. McGinley is a member of the firm’s Securities and Transactional Litigation Practice and Class Action Litigation Defense Groups. Ms. McGinley has litigated in numerous state and federal jurisdictions, representing a broad range of clients, including small companies, Fortune 500 Companies and investment advisers. She has handled various commercial...

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