FCC: “Emergency Purpose” TCPA Exceptions for COVID-19
Last week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a declaratory ruling affirming that COVID-19 related calls and text messages sent from public health officials serve an “emergency purpose” and therefore are excluded from prior express consent requirements of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
In the ruling, the FCC cites the need for hospitals, health care providers, state and local officials, and government personnel to lawfully communicate information regarding COVID-19 without risk of TCPA violation. Further, public health officials can communicate via automated or prerecorded calls, and text messages, without prior consent from recipients.
Avoiding TCPA Violations
There are two parameters for the emergency purpose TCPA exceptions for COVID-19 First, the caller must be a hospital, health care provider, state or local health official, or government official and second, the communication must be necessary information regarding the Covid-19 outbreak and must concern the imminent health and safety risks associated with the virus.
For example, calls made for shelter in place requirements, quarantines, or school closures all fit within the emergency TCPA exceptions. However, calls such as debt collection for health-related treatments do not fit the TCPA exceptions.
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