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Attorney General Nessel Joins Coalition in Urging U.S. Supreme Court to Prevent Robocall Loophole
October 23, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and 37 other attorneys general today filed an amicus brief in Facebook v. Noah Duguid, a U.S. Supreme Court case that will determine the scope of the protections of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
This case is key to the states’ ability to protect residents from scammers who use abusive robocall tactics to threaten and scam people out of their money. The brief was co-authored by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill.
"My office is committed to protecting Michigan consumers and stopping as many of these robocalls as possible. However, loopholes such as this would make it increasingly difficult to do so,” Nessel said. “My colleagues and I are urging the court to prevent such a loophole so that we may appropriately protect consumers from scammers.”
The TCPA, enacted in 1991, generally prohibits the use of an autodialer or a pre-recorded message to make a call to cell phone users. At issue in the case is whether the law’s definition of autodialers -- a device used by robocallers, legitimate businesses, and others to dial multiple phone numbers in rapid succession -- include both devices that can store and dial numbers from preloaded lists and that use a random number generator, or just those devices that use a random number generator. In their brief, the attorneys general side with the plaintiff, Noah Duguid, and argue that the TCPA applies to autodialers that both can store and dial numbers preloaded from lists as well as those that can generate and dial random numbers.
Narrowing the definition of autodialers, as Facebook argues, would leave consumers unprotected under the TCPA. Additionally, accepting a more limited definition would significantly harm the states’ ability to protect consumers under the TCPA and would limit collaboration among states and the federal government to take action against abusive robocallers.
Nessel is joined in filing today’s brief by the attorneys general of North Carolina, Indiana, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.
A copy of the brief is available here.