The Florida State Legislature has unanimously passed CS/SB 1120 (the “Bill”). Telemarketing businesses will notice many similarities between the Bill and the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Most notably is the creation of a private right of action. If signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis, the Bill will go into effect on July 1, 2021, significantly updating both the Florida Telemarketing Act and the Florida Do Not Call Act to create what would be the equivalent of a Florida TCPA. Telemarketers should be mindful of the updates contained in the Bill and take appropriate measures to comply with its provisions should it pass into law.
What are the notable provisions in the Bill?
Changes to Come to Florida Telemarketing Law
If the Bill is enacted, businesses will have to familiarize themselves with material changes to both the Florida Telemarketing Act and the Florida Do Not Call Act. Some notable provisions include:
- Businesses would be required to obtain prior express written consent from individuals before placing sales calls through use of automated systems. It is important to note that the Bill does not define “autodialer,” referring instead to “automated system[s] for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers or the playing of a recorded message,” which expands upon the definition contained in the Federal TCPA. As defined under the Bill, prior written consent requires a signed agreement that authorizes a business to place/send a call, text, or voicemail through use of an automated system or pre-recorded message.
- All sales calls made to any Florida area code are presumed to constitute calls made to a Florida resident or to a person that is in Florida, regardless of whether that in fact is the case.
- It would be unlawful to: 1) make commercial telephone solicitations before 8 a.m. or after 8 p.m. (previously 9 p.m.) in the local time zone of call recipients; 2) place more than three (3) commercial telephone calls over a 24-hour period involving the same subject matter or issue, regardless of the phone number used to make the calls; and/or 3) use technology to conceal the identity of a caller through use of caller identification technology (often referred to as “spoofing”).
Florida TCPA Private Right of Action
Individuals that have been called without consent may take advantage of a private right of action and sue offending telemarketers, seeking to recover the greater of actual damages or $500. If it is determined by a court of law that the violation in question was willful or knowing, the court may award affected individuals treble damages.
The Bill has not yet been presented to the Governor for signing. Once it is received, he will have fifteen (15) days to either sign the Bill, or take no action, either of which would cause the Bill to pass into law by the July 1, 2021, effective date. If the Governor were to veto the Bill, it is likely that the legislature would override the veto, given that it has already unanimously passed the measure. As such, businesses should be prepared to comply with this piece of Florida TCPA legislation in the near future.
The material contained herein is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney.