Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court issued a long-awaited ruling in the case of Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid. This was an appeal out of the Ninth Circuit and involved the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). In particular, this case involved the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS). Many in the consumer credit industry hoped that this case would restore some limits to the definition given by the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) previous ruling that defined an ATDS to include any modern telephone system.
The Court held that an ATDS under the TCPA is a device that “must have the capacity either to store a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator, or to produce a telephone number using a random or sequential number generator.” The case centered on the reading of the TCPA statute and its definition of an ATDS. Furthermore, the case turned on whether the clause “using a random or sequential number generator” modifies the two verbs that precede it (“store” and “produce”). The Court adopted the position that the clause modifies the two verbs. As such, for a creditor to be subject to the TCPA, it must use a random or sequential number generator that either stores or produces telephone numbers. Unfortunately, the Court did not address the term “capacity,” which is another part of the statutory definition that has caused litigation.
This limiting definition of an ATDS should help to reduce future litigation under the TCPA. How much this will limit future litigation remains uncertain. Credit Unions must remain careful and comply with the other provisions of the TCPA, which remain in effect, including respecting consumer’s revocation of consent.
Should you have question on how this ruling impacts your practices or procedures, please contact a lawyer at SVL.