WASHINGTON, DC—During the COVID-19 outbreak, healthcare providers and businesses acting pursuant to the directive of healthcare providers are permitted to send automated calls and text messages critical to the public health without worrying about whether such communications violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), according to a new FCC emergency ruling. Womble Bond Dickinson attorney David Carter discussed this limited exemption with Bloomberg Law.

Normally, the TCPA requires such calls to have the recipients’ prior express consent, but the TCPA includes an exception for “emergency purposes,” which the FCC has confirmed applies in this time of national emergency. According to the FCC, however, the exception only applies to healthcare providers, state and local health officials, other government agencies, and businesses communicating at the direction of a healthcare provider to provide information essential to the public health.

However, the calls and text messages must be strictly informational, and may not consist of advertising or marketing.

“If your ultimate goal is to sell a product or service that may help people in a time of emergency, but isn’t directly related to the emergency itself, you aren’t going to get that exception,” Carter said.

Click here to read “FCC Eases Robocall Limits for Health Providers Amid Pandemic” at Bloomberg Law. 

Companies rely on David Carter to guide them in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance matters and to defend them against allegations of TCPA violations. He has represented both closely held and publicly traded companies facing TCPA claims with potential liability in excess of $500 million. Carter runs the TCPA Defense Force whose mission is to reduce TCPA risk, allowing companies to communicate with consumers responsibly and without fear of legal consequences.