The Supreme Court decided the heavily-awaited appeal of the TCPA’s controversial ATDS definition.
This is NOT an April fool’s day prank.
To qualify as an “automatic telephone dialing system,” a device must have the capacity either to store a telephone number using a random or sequential generator or to produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator.
In a unanimous opinion–which was issued this morning– the Court adopted a narrow interpretation of the statute.
More coverage here.
Decision here: Facebook v Duguid
Separately, I am never going on vacation again.
Of course the Supreme Court found in favor of Facebook. Facebook is the social media department of the US government. Zuckerberg and company get a pass. I could have told you this two months ago. Where does that leave small businesses? We are still subjected to the vagrancies of this outdated regulation. You take Janet Oh’s Allstate Insurance Brokerage, which made two phone calls to Abante Rooter and Plumbing in 2018, and was forced to shut her agency down as a result of Allstate’s settlement.
Text messages are not telephone calls; therefore should not be included in the TCPA. Text messages did not exist when the TCPA was enacted in 1991. Try telling that to federal judges. Many courts have found that unsolicited texts can be included in the TCPA.
The supreme court decision did not clear this distinction between phone calls and text messages. Instead, the court based its decision on the sending platform. SCOTUS said that Facebook texts are not really texts because they did not use defined ATDS equipment. “the equipment used must use a “random or sequential number generator” but the court concluded that Facebook’s system “does not use such technology,” Justice Sotomayor wrote.
A text message is a text message when using certain equipment. But a text message is not a text message when using certain other equipment or technology. What is this equipment or this technology that Facebook used to avoid TCPA violations? I have a long line of companies interested. The court did not not say.
I believe this to be be a political decision. It looks like the Supreme Court was looking for a way to help Facebook out of this mess. They did.
Please find out what technology Facebook used to send text messages.
“The law requires that the equipment used must use a “random or sequential number generator” but the court concluded that Facebook’s system “does not use such technology,” Sotomayor added.