Supreme Court sides with Facebook in case of unwanted text messages
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The Supreme Court unanimously sided with Facebook on Thursday, ruling that its phone notification system does not violate a law prohibiting "automatic telephone dialing systems."
The court noted that the restriction in the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) only refers to systems that use random or sequential number generators, which Facebook's does not.
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"Because Facebook’s notification system neither stores nor produces numbers 'using a random or sequential number generator,' it is not an autodialer," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the court's opinion.
FOX Business reached out to Facebook for comment, but they did not immediately respond.
Noah Duguid brought the case after he received a number of text messages from Facebook notifying him that someone was trying to log into his account from an unknown browser. Duguid, who claimed he did not have a Facebook account and never gave the company his phone number, sued after failing to get the notifications to stop. Duguid alleged that this practice, which resulted in him getting unwanted text messages, violated the TCPA.
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The statute in question prohibits the use of equipment that can "store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator; and … dial such numbers."
The main argument was based on syntax, specifically whether the phrase "using a random or sequential number generator" applied to both "store" and "produce." According to Duguid, the phrase only described the ability to produce phone numbers, meaning that any system that could store numbers – without the use of a generator — and dial them violated the law.
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The Supreme Court sided with Facebook, ruling that the TCPA only barred systems that used random or sequential number generators, whether they were storing or producing them. While Facebook's system stored and dialed numbers, they were numbers given to them, not numbers that they generated themselves.
"In sum, Congress’ definition of an autodialer requires that in all cases, whether storing or producing numbers to be called, the equipment in question must use a random or sequential number generator," Sotomayor wrote. "This definition excludes equipment like Facebook’s login notification system, which does not use such technology."
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The court, reversing the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, noted that under Duguid's definition, the law would cover "virtually all modern cell phones, which have the capacity to 'store . . . telephone numbers to be called' and 'dial such numbers.'"
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