Dish Network Scores Record-Breaking Fine for Telemarketing Violations, Invasion of Privacy
CALIFORNIA – Consumer privacy and the Do Not Call Registry had staunch legal support brought by the Department of Justice, the States of California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio. A long-running litigation at Federal Court in Illinois culminated in orders of penalties totaling $280 million and strong injunctive relief against satellite-television provider Dish Network for its telemarketing practices.
The Justice Department announced that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigation determined that Dish Network of Colorado violated the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibiting telemarketing calls to phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry, telemarketing calls to persons who have asked a seller not to call them, and provisions prohibiting robocalls. The FTC referred the case to the Department of Justice in 2009.
The five-week long bench trial began in January 2016. The ruling issued Tuesday by Judge Sue E. Myerscough of the Central District of Illinois found that Dish Network knew or should have known that its actions were illegal, and violated the privacy rights of American consumers.
The judge’s 475-page opinion cited “Dish’s reckless decision to use anyone with a call center without any vetting or meaningful supervision demonstrates a disregard for the consuming public.” She noted that the total penalty amount was appropriate given that “Dish caused millions and millions of violations of the Do Not Call Laws, and Dish has minimized the significance of its own errors in direct telemarketing and steadfastly denied any responsibility for the actions of its [retailers]. The injury to consumers, the disregard for the law, and the steadfast refusal to accept responsibility require a significant and substantial monetary award.”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division announced, “This case demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to smart enforcement of consumer protection laws, and sends a clear message to businesses that they must comply with the Do Not Call rules.”
“The outcome of this case shows companies will pay a hefty price for violating consumers’ privacy with unwanted calls,” said Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen. “This is a great result for consumers, and I am grateful to FTC staff for their years of tenacious work investigating and developing this case. We and our Department of Justice and state partners will continue to bring enforcement actions against Do Not Call violators.”