FTC's 2016 Advisory Opinion Letter regarding Soundboard Technology to take effect May 19
After being stayed (postponed) only 1 week by a federal judge, the FTC's November 10, 2016 avatar/soundboard technology letter will take effect on Friday this week. The policy had originally been scheduled to take effect last week on May 12, but judge Amit Mehta postponed the date by a week to determine if an even longer stay was warranted. Mehta has ruled against the Soundboard Association's lawsuit challenging the classification of soundboard technology as robocall. As of Friday, the FTC will not treat soundboard calls differently than more traditional prerecorded robocalls. While this ruling is disappointing, we believe there are still many viable ways to use such innovative technology.
Recall that avatar or "soundboard" technology uses a combination of live agents and prerecorded snippets. The live agent listens to one or more calls and plays short snippets prerecorded by American voice talents. This normally results in a live, dynamic conversation between the agent and the call recipient. Soundboard calls are not illegal, just as other robocalls are not illegal - they are merely subject to certain behavioral rules. For example, companies can still use soundboard technology to make marketing calls with consent, or non-marketing calls to landlines. Non-profit entities, such as bona fide charities who are not subject to the TSR, may still use such technology to solicit donations and otherwise. Political calls are also generally exempt as long as the calls do not become "telemarketing."