California Assembly Bill 3007 Proposes to Amend State Robocall Laws

TCPA Connect

California Assembly Bill 3007, introduced into the California legislature on February 21, 2020, and amended as of May 6, 2020, seeks to amend California Public Utilities Code §§ 2871, 2872, 2873 and 2875.5, relating to telecommunications. Existing law, in part, concerns the use of “automatic dialing-announcing devices,” defined as automatic equipment that incorporates a storage capability of telephone numbers to be called, or a random or sequential number generator capable of producing numbers to be called, and the capability to disseminate a prerecorded message to the telephone number called. This bill would instead define automatic dialing-announcing devices as automatic equipment that stores and automatically calls, or automatically sends text messages to, telephone numbers without significant human involvement in the act of calling or sending that generates in a random or sequential order and calls, or sends text messages to, telephone numbers without significant human involvement in the act of calling or sending that makes telephone calls that include artificial or prerecorded voice messages, or that sends text messages that include prewritten text messages.

Further, this bill will would:

  • Repeal the authorization for the use of automatic dialing-announcing devices to make calls to an established business associate, customer or other person having an established relationship or to call a recipient at the recipient’s request.
  • Specifically authorize a called party to revoke consent at any time and in any reasonable manner, regardless of the context in which the consent was provided.
  • Establish a presumption of consent by a recipient of a telephone call, using an automatic dialing-announcing device, made to a telephone number selected from stored numbers obtained from a list of registered voters to immediately connect the recipient with a person waiting to be connected for a live-voice communication regarding the recipient’s plans to vote in an election, as specified.

Exemptions to the restrictions on use of an automatic dialing-announcing device remain unchanged from existing law and include:

  • A school for purposes of contacting parents or guardians of pupils regarding attendance.
  • An exempt organization under the Corporation Tax Law (Part 11 (commencing with Section 23001) of Division 2 of the Revenue and Taxation Code) for purposes of contacting its members.
  • A privately or publicly owned cable television system for purposes of contacting customers or subscribers regarding the previously arranged installation of facilities on the premises of the customer or subscriber.
  • A privately or publicly owned public utility for purposes of contacting customers or subscribers regarding the previously arranged installation of facilities on the premises of the customer or subscriber, or for purposes of contacting employees for emergency actions or repairs required for public safety or to restore services.
  • A petroleum refinery, chemical processing plant or nuclear power plant for purposes of advising residents, public service agencies and the news media in its vicinity of an actual or potential life-threatening emergency.
  • Law enforcement agencies, fire protection agencies, public health agencies, public environmental health agencies, city or county emergency services planning agencies, or any private, for-profit agency operating under contract with, and at the direction of, one or more of these agencies, if used for any of the following purposes:
    • Providing public service information relating to public safety;
    • Providing information concerning police or fire emergencies;
    • Providing warnings of impending or threatened emergencies; and
    • Testing all modes of 911 emergency telephone systems. 

Find the bill here.

Why it matters: While this bill is still making its way through the legislative process, it is worth noting that its passage would make California’s consent requirements exceed those of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) in a few notable respects. First, the bill appears to eliminate the ability to rely upon consent based on an established relationship (business or otherwise) or an explicit request. Second, it requires that revocation of consent must be permitted at any time and by any reasonable means, regardless of how the consent was provided. These changes could lead to increased state law liability for companies currently relying on established relationships and requests for consent prior to making calls using such automated devices and should put companies on high alert (if the law passes) that they may need to revise their practices with respect to honoring revocation.

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