Supreme Court’s TCPA Decision “A Win for Consumers and Small Businesses”

Lauren Bianchi

Supreme Court’s TCPA Decision “A Win for Consumers and Small Businesses”

 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court delivered an important win for consumers and small businesses last week when it ruled 9-0 in Facebook v. Duguid to narrow the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), protecting a bank’s ability to communicate with its customers – especially when there are indications of fraud or to alert customers of assistance during times of emergency – without the threat of unnecessary and unwarranted lawsuits.

 

The Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) submitted an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in Facebook v. Duguid and has long advocated for TCPA reform. Applauding the Court’s recent decision, the CBA said:

 

“This ruling is welcome news and an important step toward reforming a law deeply out of date and out of touch with the needs of consumers and small businesses. For too long, the TCPA has had a chilling effect on banks’ ability to quickly share time-sensitive information with their customers, information that often requires immediate action. This ruling helps ensure banks can communicate without fear of litigation, while upholding the intent of the law: protecting privacy and combatting fraud.”

 

The decision will help prevent frivolous lawsuits that have hampered customer communications. As American Banker explained:

 

“The ruling came in a case against Facebook, and hinged on the interpretation of language in the 30-year-old law that bans autodialed calls to cell phones without the recipient’s permission. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote for the court that the plaintiff’s interpretation of what constitutes an autodialer was overly broad, and would capture virtually all modern cell phones. […] Banks rely on automated calls and texts to consumers for various purposes — including marketing, fraud prevention and online security, in addition to debt collection […] The Supreme Court decision provides greater certainty about the legality of such calls and texts.”

 

CBA has long fought to address the challenges with TCPA, including:

 

 

 

  • Calling on Congress to update the TCPA to protect the beneficial communications between legitimate businesses and their customers while also preventing fraudulent robocalls.

 

Read more about CBA’s efforts to reform the TCPA and protect banks’ ability to communicate with their customers here and here.

 

Background:

 

In Facebook v. Duguid, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on April 1, 2021, on what qualifies as an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). The court specifically held: “To qualify as an ‘automatic telephone dialing system’ under the TCPA, a device 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 examined the random and sequential aspect of these systems, finding for a system to qualify as an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS), it needs to have the capability to store or produce random and sequential numbers. The capability just to store or produce numbers which are not random or sequential will not fall under the definition. CBA and others filed an amicus briefwith the Supreme Court on this matter in 2020, advocating for a more restrictive definition of ATDS. Under the previous interpretation of the definition, which has been debated in multiple district courts over the past three years, technology as simple as a consumer cell-phone could qualify as an ATDS. CBA believes the more limited definition as the Supreme Court ruled is more in line with the congressional intent in the TCPA and will help the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) better combat the fraudulent and illegal robocalls often plaguing consumers.

 

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About the Consumer Bankers Association:

The Consumer Bankers Association represents America’s leading retail banks. We promote policies to create a stronger industry and economy. Established in 1919, CBA’s corporate member institutions account for 1.7 million jobs in America, extend roughly $4 trillion in consumer loans and provide $275 billion in small business loans annually. Follow us on Twitter @consumerbankers.