The Law and Business of Social Media
April 12, 2021 - Privacy

Much-Anticipated Supreme Court Ruling Limits the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s Definition of an Autodialer

Who Do You Know? Contacts Access and Data Privacy Issues in Burgeoning Social Media Apps.

The Supreme Court has issued its much-anticipated ruling in Facebook v. Duguid, impacting many pending Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) cases nationwide and providing guidance to the many businesses that engage in calling and texting campaigns. The TCPA generally requires an individual’s prior consent to use an automatic telephone dialing system (an “autodialer”) to call or text his or her mobile phone, including for non-marketing purposes.

The definition of an autodialer is thus crucial to whether and when a business may call or text its customers, prospects, or even employees. Unanimously reversing the Ninth Circuit, the Court held that a “necessary feature of an autodialer . . . is the capacity to use a random or sequential number generator to either store or produce phone numbers to be called.” The Court further held that Facebook’s text-notification system should not be considered an autodialer because it sent “targeted or individualized” texts to “numbers linked to specific accounts,” instead of randomly or sequentially storing or producing those numbers.

We explore this decision in our most recent client alert.