Last month, the Supreme Court held up a ruling made by a lower court that banned robocalls. The ban was set forth in 1991 under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) to protect individuals’ privacy.
In 2015, the Obama administration created an exemption. This exemption allowed debt collectors, specifically for debt guaranteed by or owed to the federal government, to make robocalls.
This all came about when political groups and non-profit organizations sued because they felt the debt collectors were getting unfair treatment. They wanted the TCPA removed altogether.
The lower courts upheld the decision to keep the TCPA in place as well as the exemption for debt collectors due to their “responsibility for collecting on government debt”.
An appeals court saw the case and overturned the ruling. Claiming that the TCPA should be kept in place, but the exemption for debt collectors should be removed.
Which brings us to the Supreme Court taking the case. Of the 9 justices, 6 agreed with the Appeals Court – keep the TCPA in place, and remove the exemption for debt collectors. The other 3 justices wanted to remove the TCPA altogether.
What this ruling did
It leveled the playing field. The Supreme Court banned robocalls, no matter what organization you work for, no matter what purpose.
It was a great win for consumer privacy, as well. Justice Brett Kavanaugh was quoted saying, “Americans dramatically disagree across many different policies, but they’re all sick and tired of robocalls.”
That’s not to say that robocalls won’t happen. I can attest, as I’m sure you can as well, to getting robocalls since I got my first cell phone.
Organizations across the board shouldn’t be actively robocalling, but they do. Regulation and policing of these activities are very difficult, which is why it still takes place.
Be that as it may, the Supreme Court’s decision to keep the TCPA in place, but remove the exemptions for federal debt collectors was a big win.