Last week, Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), author of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when he was in the House of Representatives, Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) and 19 members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives filed an amicus brief
with the Supreme Court urging the Justices to uphold the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Duguid v. Facebook, Inc.,
which found that when Congress passed the TCPA, it defined Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) to include systems like predictive dialers that dial telephone numbers stored in a list or database and systems that dial arbitrary numbers produced by a random or sequential number generator.
The Members assert that a reversal of Facebook, Inc. would exclude unwanted robocalls from the requirement for consent under the TCPA because the calls were made from a system that stored the numbers on a list. In such a scenario, the TCPA would no longer protect consumers from a robocall campaign that called every cellular number in the entire country every hour of the day, which can easily be done via the internet from a home office, let alone a well-resourced telemarketer.
The members conclude: “The TCPA remains an essential, if not more essential, piece of legislation today. By restricting calls made to cell phones using robocall technology, among other provisions, the TCPA prevents a countless number of unwanted robocalls every year, every day, and indeed every hour and minute, from intruding on Americans’ privacy, scamming their wallets, and overwhelming our confidence in the nation’s telephone networks.”
Under the TCPA, automatic telephone dialing systems (i.e., technology that allows someone to make calls without manually dialing a number by hand) and artificial or prerecorded voices may not be used to make calls to cell phones, except with prior express consent of the called party, or if the call is being made for emergency purposes.