Understanding The TCPA & CTIA

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TCPA Overview

In 1991, Congress pass the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) as an amendment to the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the TCPA is to protect American consumers from telephone solicitation and telemarketers using automated phone equipment to place calls. As technology has progressed, the TCPA has been interpreted to apply to phone calls, text messages, fax communications, and prerecorded voice messages. Per the TCPA, companies must abide by Do Not Call Registry restrictions and obtain explicit consent (“opt in”) before contacting consumers.

TCPA Guidelines

  • Contacts must provide consent (“opt-in”) before receiving messages.
  • Telephone marketing solicitation requires proof of written consent. 
  • Electronic consent may be obtained via mobile keyword and online sign-up pages. 
  • Written consent obtained via paper sign-up must specify SMS messaging consent.
  • Non-solicitation messages include internal communications and emergency alerts.
  • Non-solicitation messages also require documented written or verbal consent.
  • Solicitation messages may be sent between 8:00 AM and 9:00 PM, recipient’s time.
  • Message frequency and content should match opt-in disclosures.
  • Example: Subscribers opted-in to account updates should not receive marketing.
  • Telephone messaging programs must allow opt-outs by any reasonable means.
  •  Messaging companies may not restrict opt-out methods.
  • TCPA violations are subject to fines up to $1,500 per message, per each recipient.

CTIA Overview

Originally named the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association at its founding in 1984, the CTIA is a wireless carrier trade organization created to regulate messaging content and frequency. The CTIA is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization that today represents both wireless carriers and companies that manufacture wireless products or provide wireless telephone and messaging services.

CTIA Guidelines - Prohibited Content

  • Pornography, sexual products, sexually explicit material including escort services.
  • Illegal drugs and or paraphernalia.
  • Alcoholic beverages, and promotion of alcohol to persons under 21 years of age.
  • Pirated computer programs, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, or other harmful code.
  • Instructions or materials for the assembly of bombs or other weapons.
  • Disclosure of anyone’s private or personally identifying information without prior consent.
  • Disclosing a minor’s private or personally identifying information without parental consent.
  • Any illegal or improper promotion to persons under 18 years of age.
  • Any libelous, defamatory, scandalous, threatening, or harassing activity.
  • Objectionable content including profanity, obscenity, lasciviousness, or violence.
  • Any product or service related to death (e.g., mortuaries and cemeteries).
  • Any product or service that is unlawful where the product, service or promotion is received.
  • Images or content created by others without prior written consent from the content owner.

 

Additionally, the CTIA prohibits any objectionable content that includes bigotry, hatred, or any discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation, or age. The CTIA also prohibits any messaging that advocates, promotes, or encourages violence against any government, group, organization, or individual or any instruction, information, or material assistance in causing or carrying out violence.

CTIA - SPAM Guidelines

The CTIA prohibits “SPAM” messaging. According to the CTIA, SPAM includes products, services, or content commonly associated with unsolicited commercial messages, including but not limited to:

 

  • Online or direct pharmaceutical sales (e.g., health and sexual well-being products)
  • Credit or finance management (e.g., credit repair, debt relief, stock and trading tips)
  • Mortgage or automobile finance offers
  • Claims of lost bank accounts or inheritances
  • Odds-making and gambling (e.g., casino games, horse and dog racing, sporting events)
  • Material that displays aa person under 18 years old in an illicit or exploitative manner
  • Work-at-home businesses
  • Pyramid schemes or multi level-marketing (a.k.a. MLM or network marketing) business
  • “Get rich quick,” “build your wealth,” and “financial independence” offerings
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