The nonprofit animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the vegetarian meat substitute manufacturer Beyond Meat may seem like odd bedfellows at first glance, but they both share an interest in getting people to eat less meat and more vegetarian products and have teamed up to that end. However, their efforts may have put them in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA).
The TCPA regulates the use of automated dialing systems, artificial or pre-recorded messages, text messages, fax machines, and other automated systems for contacting large numbers of people. Its purpose is to prevent people from being bombarded by robocalls or texts sent out by marketers looking to advertise to people. While it doesn’t ban these practices, it does restrict their use, and requires express written permission from consumers before they can contact an individual directly.
The plaintiff bringing the case is a resident of San Diego, CA, claiming they were contacted by an automated system by PETA without express written consent. While normally PETA would be exempted from that rule because it is a nonprofit advocacy organization, the nature of the message was to promote Beyond Meat’s products, effectively making them marketers for Beyond Meat. The plaintiff is attempting to apply for class action status, which, if accepted by the court, could expose both PETA (which sent the offending texts) and Beyond Meat (whose products were promoted) to millions in potential liability.
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