Average Joe SCOTUS: Facebook v. Duguid

We all hate robocalls, right? Well, this is about a robotext. You see, Facebook has been sending messages to Noah Duguid that someone was trying to access his account. But Noah doesn’t even have a fucking Facebook account. This poor bastard got texts for like ten months.

So finally, Noah was like, “I’m suing these motherfuckers to make them leave me alone.”

He sued using the Telephone and Consumer Protection Act of 1991, which forbids robocalls, even though he was getting texts, not calls.

Well, in the statute, it defines a robocaller as a device with the capacity “to store or produce telephone numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator.” But the Ninth circuit opted to ignore that last sentence, arguing it doesn’t care if they use a random number generator, if it stores and calls numbers automatically, it’s a violation.

So here we are at SCOTUS to decide whether it has to use a random number generator to be in violation of the law.

In a unanimous decision, written by Justice Sotomayor, Facebook gets the nod. Section 227(a)(1) defines an autodialer 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 such numbers.” They argued that English works like this. Because the “using a random or sequential number generator” part of that text clearly modifies both “store” and “produce’ in the first part of the sentence, otherwise they’d have written it differently. Since Facebook’s software neither stores, nor produces numbers using a number generator, they’re in the clear.

On a side note, hold on to your hats, because this largely means that you’ll be getting a lot more calls of this nature, since it now limits the scope under the law, to only calls that were done randomly, and not specifically aimed at you.

Read about the case, and hear oral arguments at Oyez.com, or read about it at SCOTUSBlog or National Law Review.