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Appeals Court Overturns Parts of TCPA Rule
Monday, March 19, 2018 6:55 AM

A District of Columbia Court of Appeals overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s definition of an autodialer and vacated the FCC’s reassigned number approach in a lawsuit brought against the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).

Credit union advocates had been seeking clarification on both issues, and CUNA subsequently filed an amicus brief expressing concerns about the TCPA's negative effects on credit union-member communication. In December 2017, more than a dozen bipartisan members of Congress wrote to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asking for clarifications to the TCPA. And last September, CUNA also filed a petition with the FCC outlining potential avenues for relief. The FCC then petitioned for public comment, most of which supported credit unions' position.

"It cannot be the case that every uninvited communication from a smartphone infringes federal law, and that nearly every American is a [Telephone Consumer Protection Act]-violator-in-waiting, if not a violator-in-fact," the ruling stated.

The court also rejected the FCC's interpretation of when a caller violates the TCPA by calling a reassigned number. "We set aside the Commission's interpretation on the ground that the one-call safe harbor is arbitrary and capricious," the court said.

"Cornerstone has been working to provide relief from frivolous TCPA lawsuits," said SVP Regulatory Compliance Counsel Suzanne Yashewski. "We are very pleased to see courts recognize our concerns."

"We appreciate that the court has recognized the arbitrary and capricious nature of FCC interpretations of the TCPA that have been so problematic for credit unions by overturning the definition of an autodialer and vacating the FCC’s reassigned number approach," said CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle. "We have continuously been seeking clarification on both of these issues and will continue to fight for complete clarity for credit unions who are communicating with their members using modern technology."

The FCC’s July 2015 omnibus ruling on the TCPA has created numerous compliance concerns for credit unions, who are urged by financial regulators to ensure members are notified about important account information, but the TCPA ruling limits business-consumer communications.