Attorney General Becerra Joins Bipartisan Effort to Stop Facebook from Robocalling and Texting Consumers

Friday, October 23, 2020
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In an amicus brief to the Supreme Court, the attorneys general argue for a consumer-friendly interpretation of robocalling systems

 SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today joined a bipartisan, multistate coalition in an effort to stop companies like Facebook from using automatic telephone dialing systems to robocall and robotext consumers. In an amicus brief in the case Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid, the attorneys general called on the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt a consumer-friendly interpretation of federal law related to robocalling systems. A narrow interpretation of the law would allow calls and texts that invade consumer privacy and could perpetrate scams against Californians.

“When you sit down for dinner as a family, the last thing you want is to hear your phone ringing or buzzing with an unwanted call or text,” said Attorney General Becerra. “These calls and texts are more than just a nuisance – they are an invasion of privacy. And they can far too often lead to identity theft and financial loss. In our Supreme Court filing today, we are fighting to protect our ability to hold companies who illegally use robocalling and robotexting technology accountable.” 

Facebook, Inc. v. Duguid was filed in 2016 as a class-action suit by a consumer who did not have a Facebook account, but received a barrage of text messages about his nonexistent account. Facebook claims that its spree of security alerts sent to cellphones didn’t violate federal law because its autodialing equipment didn’t randomly generate the phone numbers it called. The attorneys general argue that the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) outlaws automatic telephone dialing systems with the capacity to store or produce phone numbers, even if they do not randomly generate phone numbers. The amicus brief explains that when Congress enacted the TCPA in 1991, it was to reinforce existing state autodialer bans, and those state laws explicitly define “automatic telephone dialing systems” broadly. The attorneys general call for the Supreme Court to adopt a definition of the TCPA as interpreted by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Facebook’s proposed narrow definition of the law would undermine state enforcement efforts against abusive autodialing devices as well as multistate and state-federal collaborations. 

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on this case in December.

In filing the brief, Attorney General Becerra joins the attorneys general of North Carolina,  Indiana, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, 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.

A copy of the brief is available here

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