Appeals Court Decision Complicates “Autodialer” Issue

A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision last week expanded the definition of an "autodialer," keeping it in line with the definition adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in a series of rulings from 2003 to 2015, which was invalidated in March.

The appeals court rejected the defendant's argument that in order to qualify as an autodialer, the equipment must operate without any human intervention.

The Ninth Circuit's decision contradicts two other federal appellate court decisions this year that have shown a willingness to more narrowly define an Automatic Telephone Dialing System (ATDS). In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated the FCC's definition of "autodialer" and rejected the commission's interpretation of when a caller violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by calling a reassigned number.

The FCC is currently considering stakeholder feedback on its request for comments on various TCPA issues, including the definition of "autodialer."

CUNA and the state leagues continue to advocate for a narrower interpretation so credit unions can contact their members without fear of breaking the law.