April 1, 2021
Decided April 1, 2021
Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, No. 19-511
Today, the Supreme Court unanimously held that a device counts as an automatic telephone dialing system under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act only if it stores or produces telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator.
Facebook users can provide a cell phone number that allows the company to send them a text message whenever someone attempts to access their account from an unknown device. Noah Duguid alleges that he has never used Facebook, yet received several of these login-notification text messages. Duguid brought a putative class action lawsuit against Facebook under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), claiming that each text message was a violation of the TCPA’s prohibitions on making calls using an automatic telephone dialing system (“autodialer”). The TCPA defines an autodialer as “equipment which has the capacity—(A) to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and (B) to dial such numbers.” 47 U.S.C. § 227(a)(1).
The Ninth Circuit held that Duguid had plausibly alleged violations of the TCPA, even if Facebook had not sent the texts using a random or sequential number generator. A device is an autodialer under the TCPA, the Ninth Circuit ruled, so long as it has the capacity to store and automatically dial numbers.
Whether the definition of an autodialer in the TCPA encompasses any device that can store and automatically dial telephone numbers, even if the device does not use a random or sequential number generator.
No. A device is an autodialer under the TCPA only if it can store or produce telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator. A device that merely stores and then automatically dials telephone numbers, but does not have the capacity to use a random or sequential number generator, is not an autodialer and is therefore not subject to the TCPA’s prohibitions.
“Because Facebook’s notification system neither stores nor produces numbers ‘using a random or sequential number generator,’ it is not an autodialer.”
Justice Sotomayor, writing for the Court
What It Means:
The Court’s opinion is available here.
Gibson Dunn’s lawyers are available to assist in addressing any questions you may have regarding developments at the Supreme Court. Please feel free to contact the following practice leaders:
Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice
|Allyson N. Ho
|Mark A. Perry
|Lucas C. Townsend
|Bradley J. Hamburger
Related Practice: Litigation
|Theodore J. Boutrous, Jr.
|Randy M. Mastro
Related Practice: Privacy, Cybersecurity and Data Innovation
+33 (0)1 56 43 13 50
|Alexander H. Southwell
|S. Ashlie Beringer
|Timothy W. Loose