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Definition of ATDS for TCPA continues to evolve

by | Jul 1, 2021 | Marketing Law

The Supreme Court recently gave businesses a big win with a recent ruling. The ruling, simply referred to in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) arena as the Facebook case, provided some guidance on the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS). In the case, discussed in more detail in a previous post available here, the court basically said that the law means exactly what it says. That the definition for an ATDS as used within the TCPA should not extend to include a whole bunch of other things. That the definition is narrow and refers to a device that stores and automatically dials numbers.

Case closed.

Unfortunately things are rarely that simple in the legal world. Case after case has come through the court system after this holding attempting to shake out the impact of the holding and look for holes. In a recent example, Huffnus v. DoNotPay, a consumer accused a business of a TCPA violation when it used a list of phone numbers to randomly reach out to potential clients. One of the contacts tried to argue that this was an ATDS as defined by the TCPA so they could move forward with a claim that the business violated the TCPA.

The problem: the numbers on the list were all supplied by consumers. The numbers themselves were not randomly generated. Although the consumer tried to argue that the machine still randomly chose the numbers, the fact that the list was generated by numbers supplied by consumers was enough for this federal court to rule in favor of the business and hold the practice was within the confines of the law and the Facebook holding noted above.