Apr 1, 2021 - Technology

Supreme Court: Facebook's automated texts aren't robocalling

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The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Facebook on Thursday, finding the company's text alerts used for suspicious logins do not qualify as illegal robocalls.

Why it matters: The ruling could be seen as a win for telemarketers, at a time when Americans get billions of robocalls every month.

Driving the news: The court ruled unanimously that Facebook's automated text alerts, used for account security, do not violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991.

  • The court ruled that illegal auto-dialing systems use a "random or sequential number generator," concluding Facebook's systems do not.

What they're saying: "Congress’ chosen definition of an autodialer requires that the equipment in question must use a random or sequential number generator," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the court's opinion. "That definition excludes equipment like Facebook’s login notification system, which does not use such technology."

  • Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) criticized the court's ruling, arguing it narrows the scope of the 1991 law: "The Court is allowing companies the ability to assault the public with a non-stop wave of unwanted calls and texts, around the clock," the two lawmakers said in a statement.

Background: The case started when a non-Facebook user started getting security text alerts from Facebook. He argued that Facebook violated the TCPA's ban on auto-dialing. California's 9th Circuit agreed with the user in 2019 before the Supreme Court agreed to take up the case, USA Today notes.

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