U.S. Supreme Court Agrees to Take On ATDS Definition Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in Duguid v. Facebook, a case that will hopefully settle at last how an automatic telephone dialing system (ATDS) is defined under the TCPA. The decision comes within days of a Court decision that upheld the TCPA’s sweeping ban on autodialed calls to cellphones while holding that calls made to collect debts owed to or guaranteed by the United States were unconstitutionally exempted from the TCPA.

Businesses and the courts have long struggled with the definition of ATDS and circuit courts are split on what capacities a system must have to be deemed an ATDS. Earlier this year, both the Seventh Circuit and the Eleventh Circuit opined a narrow interpretation that a system is an ATDS if it has the capability to store and produce telephone numbers using a random or sequential number generator. Subsequently, the Second Circuit, following the Ninth Circuit’s broad interpretation, held that a system that can autodial from a stored list is enough to qualify as an ATDS under the TCPA.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Declaratory Ruling reaffirming that click-to-text platforms are not ATDSs. However, the FCC’s ruling was limited in scope and did not fully define an ATDS.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in its next term, beginning in October.