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The U.S. Supreme Court released its eagerly anticipated decision
in Facebook Inc. v. Duguid last week, narrowly
construing the definition of an automatic telephone dialing system,
or autodialer, under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
and resolving the uncertainty that had led to a long-standing split
in the circuit courts.
Autodialer Definition and Interpretations
A circuit split regarding how broadly to define the types of
automated technology regulated under the TCPA led to this case.
Under the TCPA, autodialers are defined as “equipment
which has the capacity to store or produce telephone numbers to be
called, using a random or sequential number generator; and to dial
The Seventh, Eleventh, and Third Circuits have narrowly
interpreted this definition, while the Ninth and Second Circuits
have interpreted an autodialer more broadly.
Interpretation in Facebook
At issue in Facebook was the Ninth Circuit’s broad
interpretation that an autodialer includes any equipment that has
the capacity to store and automatically dial numbers, even if
the numbers have not been generated by a random or sequential
number generator. In other words, the Ninth Circuit held that an
autodialer need only have the capacity to “store numbers to
be called” and “to dial such numbers