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Facebook. Photo: Chesnot / Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Mar 31, 2021 - Technology

Facebook plans to give users more controls over what they see

Facebook's Nick Clegg addressing the DLD conference in 2020. Photo: Lino Mirgeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Facebook intends to provide users with new controls to directly personalize what items show up in their news feeds, the company’s VP of global policy Nick Clegg announced in an op-ed Wednesday.

What's happening: From the documentary "The Social Dilemma" to analysts of "surveillance capitalism" — both of which Clegg aims to rebut — Facebook's critics have zeroed in on the algorithms that shape users' experiences by selecting news feed content. With the company's new moves, it's trying to say to users, "You decide!"

Judge voids 2016 Trump campaign staffer's non-disclosure agreement

Former President Trump during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, in February. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A non-disclosure agreement signed by a 2016 Trump campaign staffer cannot be enforced because it's too vague, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Why it matters: The case of former Hispanic outreach director Jessica Denson, who in a separate suit in 2017 alleged she experienced discrimination and harassment on the campaign, is one of several where Trump "went after former aides that criticized him or his campaign" in order to "silence" them, the New York Times notes.

Virginia Supreme Court rules Charlottesville can remove two Confederate statues

The statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Va. Photo: Eze Amos/Getty Images

The Virginia Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Charlottesville can remove two statues of Confederate generals, overturning a previous decision by a circuit court, AP reports.

Why it matters: Civil rights advocates say the Confederate monuments pay deference to America's legacy of slavery and racism, and the removal of such statues became a flashpoint of racial justice protests in 2020.