On April 20, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee signed HB 1051 which amended the state’s Mini-TCPA by expanding the scope, creating a new section, and prescribing increased penalties. The new bill will take effect July 23, 2023. 

Most notably, HB 1051 expands the scope of existing provisions in RCW 80.36.390, 80.36.400, and 19.158.020 regulating robocalls and telephone solicitations to prohibit abusive telephone communications that mislead or harm Washington residents; extends liability to those persons who provide substantial assistance or support in the origination and transmission of robocalls that violate the law; and prohibit the initiation of unwanted telephone calls to Washington telephone numbers on the do not call registry maintained by the federal government. The following are noteworthy changes: 

HB 1051 prohibits persons from assisting in the transmission of a commercial solicitation, making third parties liable for violations of the law. “Assist in the transmission” is defined as “actions taken to provide substantial assistance or support, which enable any person to formulate, originate, initiate, or transmit a commercial solicitation when the person providing the assistance knows or consciously avoids knowing that the imitator of the commercial solicitation is engaged, or intends to engage, in any practice that violates … the [Washington] Consumer Protection Act.” However, “assist in the transmission” does not include any of the following:

  • Activities of an entity relating to the design, manufacture, or distribution of any technology, product, or component that has a commercially significant use other than to violate or circumvent this section.
  • Activities of a telecommunications provider or other entity that are limited to providing access to the internet for purposes excluding initiation of a telephone communication; or
  • Activities of a terminating provider relating to the transmission of a telephone communication (“terminating provider” means a telecommunications provider that provides voice services to an end user customer.”)

HB 1051 provides telecommunications providers with an affirmative defense if that provider acted in compliance with 47 U.S.C. SEC. 227, 16 C.F.R. PART 310, and related regulations; and implemented a reasonably effective plan to mitigate origination initiation, or transmission of a commercial solicitation.

HB 1051 prohibits any person from initiating a telephone solicitation to a telephone number registered on the federal Do Not Call Registry to all solicitations intended to be received within the state of Washington.

HB 1051 allows for a private right of action to enjoin further violations of the law and allows for damages of at least $1,000 for each individual violation (an increase from $100 per violation). Additionally, a person injured under the law may now bring an action under the Washington Consumer Protection Act. 

“Automatic dialing announcing device” has been amended to include an artificial voice and a message that is transmitted only to voicemail. “Automatic dialing and announcing device” is defined as follows: “a device system which automatically dials telephone numbers and plays transmits a recorded or artificial voice message once a connection is made. A recorded or artificial message is transmitted even if the recoded or artificial message goes directly to a recipient’s voicemail.” 

“Commercial solicitation” no longer requires a conversation, only a “communication made” and has expanded to include wrongfully obtaining anything of value. “Commercial solicitation” is defined as follows: means the unsolicited imitation of a telephone communication made for the purpose of encouraging a person to purchase property, goods, or services or wrongfully obtaining anything of value.” 

The above is not an exhaustive list of all updates but includes key takeaways.  The legislation takes effect on July 23, 2023, and would appear to operate prospectively.