July 10, 2020

Supreme Court Makes More Robocalls Illegal and Will Determine What Is a Robocall Soon

Since 1991 the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, or TCPA, has regulated robocalls, which are loosely defined as calls or texts using automatic telephone dialing systems (a/k/a an “autodialer”). In 2015, Congress excluded robocalls to collect government debts from regulation. In Barr v. American Association of Political Consultants, the Supreme Court deemed that exception unconstitutional because it favored certain types of speech. The court found the remainder of the law valid. This means more robocalls are now governed by the TCPA, which may carry statutory damages for violations up to $1,500 per call or text.

At Facebook’s request, the Supreme Court also agreed to review a key provision of the TCPA to determine what is an “autodialer.” Courts across the country have split on what software and hardware violates the statute—equipment that generates the numbers or equipment merely storing the numbers. The Supreme Court appears set to provide guidance to avoid businesses and consumers seeing different results from using the same calling equipment.             

Payne & Fears has litigated TCPA cases for more than a decade. Contact your Payne & Fears attorney if you have questions about TCPA compliance or potential violations. Because the TCPA may carry massive statutory damages for one press of a button, it’s critical to stay on top of the latest developments and their impacts.