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FCC seeks comment on the definition of “residential telephone line” under the TCPA

On March 31, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a public notice seeking comment on a petition for declaratory ruling filed by Todd C. Bank (“Bank”). Bank’s petition seeks to clarify whether a telephone line in a home, but used for business purposes, can be considered a “residential” line under the TCPA.   

Bank argues in his petition that Section 227(b)(1)(B) of the TCPA, which generally prohibits robocalls to residential telephone lines, should restrict calls from an autodialer to residential telephone lines that are also used for business purposes. In support of his petition, Bank asserts that creating a bright line test prohibiting all robocalls to telephone lines that are registered with a service provider as residential will serve the public interest by limiting calls to individuals who work at home, and reduce uncertainty for telemarketers trying to comply with the TCPA.

In its corresponding public notice, the FCC seeks comments on whether it should (1) “establish such a bright line test for identifying a ‘residential line’ under the prohibition against unconsented-to calls using an artificial or prerecorded voice,” (2) adopt some other test to identify telephone lines used for both residential and business purposes, or (3) create a “multifactor analysis” for determining whether a phone line is “residential” for purposes of the TCPA’s prohibition.

The resolution of this matter could have significant implications for telemarketers, who as a result may have to further screen potential calls to avoid TCPA liability. Comments on the petition are due by May 2, 2016 and reply comments are due by May 17, 2016.

The Matter is In the Matter of: Todd C. Bank, CG Docket No. 02-278, before the Federal Communications Commission.

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