Bringing the law into the 21st century, the New York legislature has updated the state's telemarketing statute to add text messaging.
Joint bills in the Senate and Assembly modified Section 399-z of the General Business Law to include the term "electronic messaging text" to multiple definitions in the statute, such as "telemarketer," "telemarketing" and "telemarketing sales calls."
The amended law defined "electronic messaging text" to include "real-time or near real-time non-voice messages in text form over communications networks, and includes the transmission of writing, signs, signals, pictures and sounds of all kinds by aid of wire, cable or other like connection between points of origin and reception of such transmission."
Before he stepped down, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law on July 13, giving the changes an effective date of August 12.
"Our consumer protections need to keep pace with technology[,] and New Yorkers who have long been plagued by the nuisance of annoying calls from telemarketers now have to contend with unwanted texts attempting to sell them things they don't want," Cuomo said in a statement. "This legislation closes this annoying loophole and will ensure our laws are modernized to confront the needs of New Yorkers."
The state has multiple laws in place to regulate telemarketing. Last March, the Nuisance Call Act took effect, mandating that live-voice outbound telemarketers must inform consumers that they have the option to be added to the seller's internal do-not-call (DNC) list.
If a consumer elects this option, the telemarketer must immediately end the call and add the number to the internal DNC list. The law also expanded restrictions on the sharing of customer data, requiring telemarketers to obtain express agreement—in writing or electronic format—before any contact information (such as name, telephone number or email address) can be shared or sold.
Violations of the law can result in fines of up to $11,000.
To read the updated law, click here.
Why it matters: Businesses operating in New York or calling New York consumers should take note of this new addition to the state law and confirm their compliance. The update is already in effect.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.