About 1 April 2021, the United States Supreme Court answered the question of which kind of dialing equipment qualifies as a”automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS) under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), finally putting to rest years of lawsuit stemming from various interpretations of the expression. Back in Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, ” the Court held that”Congress’ definition of an autodialer demands that in most instances, whether preserving or generating numbers to be predicted, the equipment in question should use a sequential or random number generator” 1 Hence, technology that simply puts calls out of a pre requisite database of consumer numbers doesn’t constitute an ATDS. The Court’s decision is a significant success for business entities which rely on dialer technologies to reach current clients regarding their consideration.
Back in Duguid, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals adhered to a wide definition of ATDS, but other current courts of appeals decisions had construed the word . In its conclusion, the Court refused the 9th Circuit’s reading of the TCPA and embraced a narrow interpretation.
3 The Court noted that”[u]nder traditional rules of grammar, whenever there’s a simple, parallel structure that entails each of nouns or verbs in some string, a modifier in the end of the list generally applies to the whole series.” 4 Implementing this canon of interpretation necessitates”qualifying equally antecedent verbs,’shop’ and’create,’ using the term’with a random or sequential number generator. ”’5 Hence, the Court held a dialer system can’t constitute an ATDS in which it lacks the capability either (1) store phone numbers to be called using a random or sequential number generator or (2) create telephone numbers to be called using a random or sequential number generator.6 This holding is in accord with the rulings of the 3rd, 7th, and 11th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals.7 The holding rejected the 2nd, 6th, and 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals’ broad perspective it to constitute an ATDS, a dialing system need only be able to”store amounts to be known as” and”to dial such numbers mechanically.” 8
In rejecting a wide interpretation of ATDS, the Court noted that”Duguid’s interpretation of an autodialer would catch nearly all modern mobile phones, which have the capability to’save… phone numbers to be called’ and’dial such numbers. ”’9″The TCPA’s liability provisions, subsequently, could impact ordinary mobile phone owners in the duration of commonplace use, including speed dialing or sending automatic text message answers.” 10 That might”take a leash to those nuanced issues when Congress supposed to use a scalpel.” 11 The Court reasoned by ignoring some of Duguid’s additional arguments. Specifically, the Court failed to give credence to the belief that Congress supposed to utilize the TCPA to”restrict annoyance calls” normally.12 The Court said that”Duguid’s quarrel is with Congress, which didn’t specify an autodialer because malleably because he’d have enjoyed. … This Court has to interpret what Congress composed, and that’s that’with a random or sequential number generator’ modifies both’shop’ and’produce.
The Court’s judgment will probably benefit business entities which rely on utilizing dialing technologies to attain their customers utilizing a database of amounts offered by the consumers. At precisely the exact same period, the ATDS supply, along with other provisions from the TCPA that limit the capability to put particular kinds of calls in some specific conditions, stay in effect and justify careful evaluation for compliance functions.