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Privacy Rules Hit Oct. 16; Hefty Fines Loom

9 Oct, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – Marketers using SMS texts who don’t comply with the new rules under the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) could face fines between $500 and $1,500 per violation.

The new rules become effective Oct. 16 (Response This Week, Sept. 11) and erase the exception of presumed consent for preexisting customers. To avoid the penalties, attorneys say marketers now need prior written consent, which can be achieved via E-mails, website forms or telephone key-press functions.

Before these new rules, if marketers had an existing relationship with a customer, they didn't need additional consent to market to them, Linn Foster Freedman, leader of the privacy and data protection group at law firm Nixon Peabody, told MediaPost News.

Freedman said she fears that even text marketers that have made it a practice to obtain consent could be caught unaware by the severity of the law. It mandates that telemarketers, for instance, include an interactive opt-out mechanism at the beginning of each phone call.

Freedman said compliance should be a high priority for any marketers using telephones, and that she’s counseling clients who use SMS text to get consent often and to constantly give an option to opt out.

She offers these immediate tips: review tech operations; install prior consent mechanisms; and make sure employees know the new rules.

One SMS text marketing provider, John Tallarico, vice president of service management at Genesys, told MediaPost News that most of his clients are already in compliance with the FCC and are getting written consent, “but the FCC order is ambiguous as to what the specific requirements are and we're looking at whether we need updated opt-in requirements.”

“Our approach is to be conservative and only communicate with people who want to be communicated to,” Tallarico added.

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