In Golan v. FreeEats.com d/b/a ccAdvertising et al., the Eighth Circuit recently affirmed a trial court’s decision to reduce a TCPA judgment by approximately 98% on the grounds that an aggregate award of approximately $1.6 billion was unreasonable and disproportionate to the offense, and therefore unconstitutional. In so holding, the Eighth Circuit deviated from long-standing case law rejecting constitutional challenges to the amount of statutory damages allowed under the TCPA. If the Eighth Circuit’s analysis is adopted more widely, it could bring a needed measure of rationality to awards under the TCPA.Read More
Last week, in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., Case No. 17-1705 (2019), the Supreme Court declined to decide the level of deference that courts must afford the Federal Communications Commission (the “FCC”), finding that the answer may depend on resolution of two preliminary issues that had not been decided by the lower courts. The matter has been remanded to the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. In declining to reach the issues presented, the Supreme Court leaves open the crucial question of whether courts are bound by the FCC’s interpretation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”).Read More
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), member of the Senate Commerce Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), also a member of the Commerce Committee and author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), recently reintroduced the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (“TRACED”) Act, S. 151. The TRACED Act is identical to the version as originally introduced in November 2018 (and previously discussed here). The bill seeks to prevent illegal robocall scams and other intentional violations of the TCPA.
Recently, the attorneys general from all fifty states and four territories wrote a letter expressing support for the TRACED Act to Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Commerce Committee. In the letter, the attorneys general stated that “[w]e believe that this legislation effectively addresses many of the concerns raised by federal regulators, voice service providers, private businesses, consumer advocacy groups, and other interested parties to combat illegal robocalls and spoofing, and we are heartened that it enables the telecom industry, federal regulators, and our offices to take meaningful steps to abate the rapid proliferation of these illegal and unwanted robocalls.”
The TRACED Act would broaden the authority of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to take aggressive enforcement action against voice service providers on call authentication and other technology solutions. And among other things, the Act would direct the FCC to adopt certain rules that would require voice service providers to implement appropriate and effective call authentication technologies and also establish an interagency working group, consisting of various federal agencies, state attorneys general, and other non-federal entities, to identify and report to Congress on improving deterrence and criminal prosecution of robocall scams at the federal and state levels. The widespread support from the state attorneys general for the Act, along with prior support from the FCC and FTC Commissioners, industry associations, and leading consumer groups, may incentivize Congress to move forward on the Act.
Check this space for further updates on any notable developments regarding the TRACED Act.