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State and Local Governments and the TCPA

Dear Granicus Clients,

At Granicus we are committed to continuously enhancing our clients’ ability to communicate more richly and conveniently with their constituents. As part of this commitment, we are constantly on the look-out for changes in legislation that can have a positive impact on this relationship.

Below is information pertaining to an upcoming FCC decision that would determine whether state and local governments should be treated consistently with federal government agencies – allowing them to contact constituents on their mobile devices without requiring explicit prior opt-in consent. If you are interested in submitting a letter to the FCC, instructions on how to file can be found at How to file a letter to the FCC.

Background

In June 2016, the FCC took action to ensure that federal government officials and agencies could contact all citizens using modern calling equipment and platforms without fear of liability – for them and for the platform providers and contractors they work with – under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The TCPA makes it unlawful to use certain automatic dialing equipment and prerecorded messages to contact consumers on their mobile devices without prior consent. This restriction is not limited to telemarketing messages.

In declaring that federal government officials and agencies are not subject to the TCPA, the FCC reasoned that “subjecting the federal government to the TCPA’s prohibitions would significantly constrain the government’s ability to communicate with its citizens.  If the federal government were prohibited from making autodialed or prerecorded- or artificial- voice calls to communicate with its citizens, it would impair—in some cases, severely—the government’s ability to communicate with the public and to collect data necessary to make informed public policy decisions.” Click here to review the FCC Declaratory Ruling.

State and Local

Despite this strong rationale, the FCC declined to address whether the TCPA applied to state and local governments. The FCC is expected to finally address the issue by the end of the year. In the two years that have passed since the FCC’s ruling concerning the federal government, no stakeholder has formally opposed the FCC finding that the TCPA does not apply to state and local governments, and several instead have explained that the rationales for the FCC’s federal government ruling can and should be applied to state and local governments. Nevertheless, it remains unclear exactly what the FCC will do.

While the FCC’s decision is apparently imminent, there is still time to encourage the agency to make the right choice: The FCC should make clear that state and local governments, like the federal government, are not subject to the TCPA. Doing so would ensure that the TCPA’s prohibitions do not “significantly constrain the government’s ability to communicate with its citizens”—whether at the federal, state, or local level.

Submit Letter to FCC

If you are interested in submitting a letter to the FCC to encourage it to extend its ruling to state and local governments, go to How to File a Letter to the FCC for instructions.

These letters could help make it possible for state and local governments to contact their constituents on their mobile devices – via phone call and SMS texting – without prior opt-in consent.

Thank you,
Granicus Leadership Team