As PYMNTS noted in coverage earlier this week, the people of the digital world are willing to assent to all sorts of things in their user agreements. Facebook and Google, for example, monitor everything everyone one does on the Internet and then sell that data to the highest bidder. No problem.
Try to put something about auto-dialing or robocalling in one ToS and the world loses its mind – unless you are a telecom provider like Verizon or AT&T, both of whom have provisions in their ToS that allow for robocalling.
But eBay/PayPal – both in their current conjoined and forthcoming separated state – are not telecom operators, and recent additions to both of their ToS have the world up in arms, as both firms have recently reserved the right to to robodial their consumers.
Sort of. More accurately: both firms have actually had the robodialing thing in the ToS for the last six years, but recently an update clarified the conditions under which a user could be called – and one (of the six) possible reasons that such a call could be made was for marketing purposes. This list did not exist in previous ToS – the conditions of a robocall were just left undefined.
Which has has inspired the paper of record, The New York Times, to write the following:
“EBay wants to celebrate its forthcoming spinoff of PayPal by calling people up and trying to sell them something.”
And however likely that actually seems, New York law enforcement officials have some questions about the policy in regards to how it relates to the consumer protection law currently on the books.
“Consumer choice and privacy preferences are protected by state and federal laws — including laws that specifically aim to stop companies from using invasive robocalls to promote products to consumers who do not wish to receive them,” Melissa Grace, spokeswoman for Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, said in a statement. “The attorney general’s office will seek to stop unlawful breaches of privacy and enforce the rules that protect consumers.”
The AG’s office additionally asked about a how consumer could consent to being called on a number he or she didn’t provide – and how consumers could opt out if they so desire.
PayPal provided PYMNTS with the following comment in response to the inquiry received by the New York State AG’s office.
“We have received the letter of inquiry from the New York State Attorney General’s office and look forward to responding to their questions. We strive to be as clear as possible with our customers and clarified our policies and practices last week on the PayPal blog. Our customers can choose not to receive autodialed or prerecorded message calls.”
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