'Smart Home' Providers May Be Liable Under The TCPA

Law360, New York (July 5, 2016, 1:00 PM EDT) -- In many ways, it is becoming easier and easier to violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Congress passed the TCPA in 1991 with the simple goal of stopping automated phone calls that consumers did not consent to receive.[1] And as technology morphed and changed over the years, the Federal Communications Commission interpreted the statute so that the restrictions on automated phone calls extended to text messages as well.[2] This interpretation, of course, has made it that much more difficult for businesses to comply with the TCPA, seeing that consumers exchange text messages with businesses all the time. Consider the scenario where a shopper walks into a store and sees a sign offering a store coupon if the shopper sends a text message to a listed number. Every day, shoppers respond to these offers and instantly receive text messages containing store coupons. These consumer-prompted coupons may not violate the TCPA,[3] but they are a good example of how consumers and businesses are communicating more and more by text message. The list of examples goes on and on, and even still a new area has emerged by which companies are communicating with consumers by text message or otherwise and sharing data about those consumers' personal lives and homes. We call this the "internet of things."...

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