FTC Takes Aim at Platform Designer at the Root of Billions of Illegal Robocalls

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a complaint in federal court seeking to stop two telemarketing operations and their principals for allegedly facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to consumers nationwide. Commenting on this action, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Director Andrew Smith advised that “we will go after not only robocallers, but also companies – like these – who give robocallers the platform and tools to deceive the public and violate the law.”

The complaint alleges that James Christiano and Andrew Salisbury jointly operated a business enterprise that for years violated the TCPA. In 2001, Christiano was paid by Salisbury to create software that would auto-dial calls. This software was then bundled with other related services and dubbed “TelWeb.” Salisbury subsequently managed two call centers that used the TelWeb system to make billions of robocalls. The FTC alleges that over time, TelWeb became known as a “one-stop” shop for illegal telemarketing and was so widely used in the industry that it facilitated the unlawful calls at issue in at least eight other FTC lawsuits. The current action appears to be related to those lawsuits.

This latest enforcement action illustrates the Commission’s growing scrutiny of telemarketing, which has expanded throughout the industry to include parties involved in all aspects of customer engagement. Industry providers can help ensure continued regulatory compliance through establishing vendor due diligence programs and implementing appropriate remedial action when noncompliant activities are discovered.

*Ali Najaf contributed to this post.