On June 25, Senator Schumer of New York introduced a bill poetically titled the Act to Quell Unnecessary, Intentional, and Encroaching Telephone Calls Act of 2015 (the “QUIET Act”) that would criminalize the knowing use of telemarketing robocalls without the prior express consent of the recipient.
Under the QUIET Act, it would be illegal to knowingly initiate a “commercial robocall” without the prior express written consent of the recipient. The Act defines a “commercial robocall” as a “telephone call made for the purpose of soliciting or encouraging the purchase or rental of, or investment or enrollment in, property, goods, or services, using an automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice.” “Automatic telephone dialing system” would be defined in the same manner as under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.
The proposed QUIET Act would include several exceptions to its commercial robocall regulations. The exemptions include calls made for emergency purposes, calls made by or on behalf of a tax-exempt nonprofit organization, certain calls made by a provider of commercial mobile radio service, and certain calls that deliver a message relating to health care. The QUIET Act also includes substantial criminal penalties for violations. An offending person would be subject to fines up to $20,000 per violation and 10 years in prison.
The QUIET Act, if ever passed, would make significant noise for businesses that engage in “commercial robocalls.” Not only would these businesses already likely face compliance hurdles from the existing TCPA, they would need to implement additional compliance procedures to avoid criminal liability under the QUIET Act. Although the QUIET Act remains in the Senate Judiciary committee, its progress bears watching.