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FCC ruling provides TCPA exception for emergency Covid-19 communications

Federal Issues Robocalls FCC TCPA Covid-19 Consumer Protection

Federal Issues

On March 20, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling which “confirm[s] that the [Covid-19] pandemic constitutes an ‘emergency’ under the…[(TCPA)].” Accordingly, “hospitals, health care providers, state and local health officials, and other government officials may lawfully communicate information about [Covid-19] as well as mitigation measures without violating federal law.” The “emergency purposes” exception to the TCPA means that these callers “may lawfully make automated calls and send automated text messages to wireless telephone numbers” in order to effectively communicate with the public regarding the “imminent health risk” caused by Covid-19. The content of the communications “must be solely informational, made necessary because of the [Covid-19] outbreak, and directly related to the imminent health or safety risk arising” from the pandemic. Excluded from this emergency exception to the TCPA are debt collection calls, advertising calls, and automated telemarketing calls, which continue to require the prior express consent of the called party.

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