In the October edition of IAPP’s Privacy Advisor, Divonne Smoyer, Hubert Zanczak, and Stuart Cobb speak to New York State Attorney General, Letitia James, about her view of consumer privacy, her work to date in enforcing existing laws and her thoughts about the future of privacy in New York and the country.
FCC issues guidance on the TCPA’s “emergency purposes exception” based on the COVID-19 pandemic
The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (the TCPA) restricts telemarketing and the use of automated telephone equipment for phone calls, faxes, and text messages. The TCPA provides a private right of action and significant statutory penalties, and therefore is an area of significant risk for any company that communicates with its customers, particularly by phone or text. In an effort to ease restrictions in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued guidance clarifying that informational calls that are directly related to the imminent health or safety risk arising out of the COVID-19 outbreak and made by certain types of callers are exempt from the TCPA requirements under the “emergency purposes exception.”
Under the TCPA, telemarketers are required to obtain prior express written consent before making calls to landline or wireless phones with prerecorded telemarketing messages and before using an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) to call or text any wireless phones with telemarketing messages.
Notably, the TCPA expressly excludes calls made for “emergency purposes,” from the Act, including “calls made necessary in any situation affecting the health and safety of consumers.” This exception is intended for situations posing “significant risks to public health and safety” where the use of such calls could “speed the dissemination of information regarding” such risks or conditions.…
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Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of FCRA Class Claims Based on Job Application Credit Reports Due to Lack of Standing
In yet another appellate court decision signaling the strength of the United States Supreme Court’s 2016 Spokeo decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a pair of putative class actions against Time Warner Cable, Inc. (“TWC”) and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation (“Great Lakes”) alleging Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) violations because plaintiff job applicant failed to plead an injury sufficient to establish Article III federal standing post-Spokeo.
Plaintiff Cory Groshek (“Plaintiff”) filed the pair of suits alleging that TWC and Great Lakes violated the FCRA by requesting consumer credit reports on him as part of the job application process without complying with 15 U.S.C. section 1681b(b)(2)(A). That provision bars prospective employers such as TWC and Great Lakes from obtaining consumer reports for employment purposes unless (a) a clear and conspicuous disclosure has been made in writing to the job applicant at any time before the report is procured, in a document that consists solely of the disclosure that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes (commonly known as the “stand-alone disclosure requirement”); and (b) the job applicant has authorized in writing the procurement of the report. According to Plaintiff, TWC and Great Lakes did not provide clear and conspicuous disclosures, and as a result, the authorization he provided permitting the companies to obtain consumer reports was invalid.
The trial court agreed with TWC and Great Lakes’ arguments that Plaintiff had not suffered a concrete injury over Plaintiff’s claims that he suffered concrete informational and privacy harms. In light of Spokeo, the Seventh Circuit analyzed whether “the common law permitted suit in analogous circumstances,” and whether the alleged statutory violation presented an “appreciable risk of harm” to the concrete interest Congress sought to protect via statute. In a concise opinion, the Seventh Circuit found that Plaintiff’s claims did not confer Constitutional standing to bring suit in federal court based on either analysis.…
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FTC Releases Statement about Approval of FTC’s Consent Decree with Google
This post was also written by Frederick H. Lah.
Last week, the U.S. District Court approved the $22.5 million civil penalty against Google for violating a consent order. Yesterday, FTC Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection David Vladeck released a statement about the Court’s approval, calling the consent order “a clear victory for consumers…
Privacy Advocates Raise Concerns Over RFID
This post was written by Frederick Lah.
Wal-Mart’s decision to put radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags on individual clothing has bothered some privacy advocates. Previously only used by the company in its warehouses, Wal-Mart is expanding its use of the tags with the aim of reducing loss and ensuring shelves are optimally stocked. Further down…
Consumer Privacy Issues Abound in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
This post was also written by Chris Cwalina and Amy Mushahwar.
With President Obama scheduled to sign the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act this week, the financial services industry faces a rapidly changing regulatory environment. While a great deal of attention has been paid to the significant restructuring of the financial…