Cohen Breaks Down TCPA Compliance for IAPP’s The Privacy Advisor

Oct 3, 2016

Cohen Breaks Down TCPA Compliance for IAPP’s The Privacy Advisor

TCPA: Business killer or simple compliance matter?

For some privacy pros, adhering to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act can be as tricky as getting its name out in one breath.

At first blush, it could be hard to see why. A cursory glance of the law makes it appear straightforward: don’t spam people with automated marketing calls. Respect their privacy. End of story.

Not so much, some say…

…The devil is in the details, however, and it’s there that companies often trip up.


“Part of it is understanding that the TCPA is not just one specific thing,” said Ifrah Law’s Michelle Cohen, CIPP/US. “It has many twists and turns.”

Barker took it a step further. “One of the issues with the TCPA is that it impacts all lines of business,” he said. “This rule applies across the board. It literally hits every area that we have at Capital One. … It covers everything.”

There’s also the fact that nearly all types of companies are under this legislation’s umbrella…

…Consent is also fleeting…

That’s especially problematic when one considers that “100,000 numbers are every day reassigned,” Cohen said. Upkeep becomes a problem.

With all these specific areas of contention within the TCPA, it’s no wonder privacy pros are confused. How does a company comply?

Know your stuff – or call upon those who do. “Call your lawyer,” Cohen said. “I want to help people reach customers, but do it in a way that will help you avoid trouble.” If not your lawyer, get somebody who “understands the various parties across the different sides,” she added, and don’t rely on “random information on the internet.”

Spend money to review your business practices and to train your employees. After all, Cohen said, proactive protection will be cheaper than paying a large fee in settlements or fines in the future. “Compliance is key,” she added. “The best money that could be spent is understanding the law is dotted Is and Ts crossed, and [it] puts you in the best situation to defend yourself.” Use the opportunity before a new marketing campaign goes out to make sure everyone is on the same page, she added.

Communicate with others in your company and ensure that they both understand the law, what’s at stake if it’s broken, and how to comply with it. This isn’t just a problem for the legal team, Cohen said.“Take a step back. Make sure the marketing department is in communication with legal and understands there are laws, and that you can get yourselves in a huge class action without any intention of doing anything wrong.”

Barker agreed.

“Check the businesses under your umbrella and evaluate your tools,” he said.

Cohen favored a “happy balance” of company compliance and increased FCC clarity and understanding.

“People are trying to eat dinner with their families, and they’re getting these robocalls, and they don’t know how to opt out – it’s become this class action vehicle,” she said. “Should [companies] be complying? Of course they should.” But things have gotten crazy. The TCPA “is kind of killing businesses,” she added.

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