WASHINGTON, DC (STL.News) Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich Friday, October 23, 2020 filed an amicus brief in Facebook v. Noah Duguid, a U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine the scope of the protections of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). This case is key to states’ ability to protect residents from scammers who use abusive robocall tactics to threaten and scam people out of their money.
“From invading our privacy to interrupting our dinner, big tech and robocalls are really out-of-hand,” said General Brnovich. “I’m proud to be part of a bipartisan coalition that seeks to reverse this abusive trend and to hold offenders accountable.”
The TCPA, enacted in 1991, generally prohibits the use of an autodialer or an artificial or pre-recorded voice to make a call to cellphone users. At issue, in this case, is whether autodialers include any device that can store and dial numbers automatically or whether autodialers are limited to devices that use a random number generator. In their brief, the Attorneys General side with the plaintiff, Noah Duguid, that the TCPA applies to all kinds of devices that store and dial numbers automatically.
Noah Duguid, who is not a Facebook user, received repeated text messages alerting him that his (non-existent) account was being accessed from an unknown browser. Despite Duguid’s repeated requests (through various channels) that Facebook stop with the messages, the problem continued for at least nine months. Duguid sued under the TCPA, alleging that Facebook used an automatic telephone dialing system to send unsolicited text messages to unconsenting consumers’ cellphone numbers.
Facebook argues that, because its dialing technology merely stores and dials pre-existing telephone numbers and does not use a random or sequential number generator, its unwanted text messages — even to cellphones of non-customers — do not violate the TCPA.
To narrow the definition of autodialers, as Facebook argues, leaves consumers unprotected under the TCPA. Additionally, it also limits collaboration among states and the federal government to take action against abusive robocallers.
Attorney General Brnovich is joined in filing today’s brief by the Attorneys General of North Carolina, Indiana, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.