Video Countdown: Top Ten 2018 TCPA News Stories

Womble Bond Dickinson

Womble Bond Dickinson

The world of the TCPA is marked by constant flux and 2018 proved to be a particularly fluctuating year as the TCPA yo-yo'ed between positive court decisions, alarming legal enforcement against violators of the TCPA, and on-going debates surrounding key TCPA statutes. With all that has happened, identifying this past year's TCPA highlights and extracting each of their compliance lessons may be daunting. The TCPA Defense Force has compiled a countdown list of the top ten TCPA news stories from 2018 to encourage compliance preparedness and give foresight into the year ahead.

10 – Record Breaking Fines

In 2018, the Federal Communications Commission doled out fines and civil forfeiture orders against serial robocallers and call spoofers for TCPA violations in the hundreds of millions dollars.

In May, the FCC approved an order imposing $120 million in penalties against Mr. Adrian Abramovich who made calls using a practice known as “neighbor spoofing.” Neighbor spoofing hides the caller’s real telephone number and displays a fake telephone number in the recipient’s local area code to encourage the recipient to answer the spam call.

And in September, the FCC proposed a $37.5 million fine against an Arizona-based company for making similar spoofed sales calls. These actions signal the increased attention that is being paid to TCPA violations and why your company’s compliance with the statute is more important than ever before.

Related Blog Posts:

9 - Eighth Circuit Examines Whether TCPA Damages in Class Actions May Violate Due Process

On December 12, 2018, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument in a case that could have far-reaching implications for the TCPA. 

The case captioned Ron Golan v., Inc. examines the question of whether the TCPA’s statutory damages of $500 per message can be unconstitutional when applied in the context of class action litigation.  The case stems from a call made using a recorded message from former Governor Mike Huckabee to promote a movie titled Last Ounce of Courage during the 2016 presidential election.  

After concluding that there was liability for the calls, District Judge Richard Weber determined that damages of $1.6 billion – which is what the statute called for – produced a result that “wholly disproportionate to the offense” and was, therefore, unconstitutional as applied.    

The District Court then reduced the damages to $32.4 million, which was $10 per call.  During oral argument at the Eighth Circuit, at least one of the Judges expressed skepticism that the Supreme Court would accept the Plaintiff’s argument that the District Court had no authority to reduce the $1.6 billion award.  If the District Court’s decision to reduce the damages is upheld, it would create important new precedent that could significantly alter how companies assess TCPA exposure in future cases.

8 - Stopping Bad Robocalls Act and The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act

Number 8 on the List are several new pieces of legislation introduced in the United States Congress which would amend the TCPA, including the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act and the TRACED Act. 

The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act proposed to amend the TCPA to, among other things, define a “robocall” to include calls or text made using equipment that stores telephone numbers to be called, which would have codified a new, very broad definition of the term, eliminating the FCC’s power to decide the issue.  It would also have guaranteed a consumer the right to revoke consent at any time and in any manner, which again would have limited the ability of the FCC to debate this issue. 

Meanwhile, the TRACED Act would amend the TCPA to, among other things, (i) require voice service providers to adopt call authentication technology; (ii) expand TCPA enforcement powers to the other federal agencies like the DOJ and CFPB; and (iii) allow the FCC to impose civil penalties of up to $10,000 per call against violators who intentionally disobey telemarketing restrictions.

The nature of these proposed amendments to the TCPA are important because, while trying to toughen enforcement of the TCPA, do nothing to address the abusive, predatory litigation tactics that face American businesses. 

Related Blog Posts:

7- Multiple courts uphold text “STOP” to opt out

Taking the number 7 spot are text message opt-out evader lawsuits.

Opt out evaders avoid opting out of SMS campaigns by not following simple opt-out instructions as provided by the sender (such as “Reply STOP to stop receiving messages”).  Often, they send convoluted responses that do not clearly convey a desire to opt-out. Then, they sue for subsequent messages, alleging that the sender did not have their consent to text.

The Seventh Circuit in Franklin v. Express Text, LLC and the Ninth Circuit in Epps v. Earth Fare have both affirmed the consumer is not allowed to ignore clear opt-out instructions from the sender. The sender can designate an exclusive means of opting out.

In Rando v. Edible Arrangements, a New Jersey district court held that opt-out plaintiffs can state a claim only if (1) the required method makes it difficult or impossible for the consumer to revoke, and (2) plaintiff’s non-compliant method of revocation was reasonable given the totality of circumstances. 

Related Blog Posts:

6- Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation

2018 saw the highly publicized, controversial nomination and eventual confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. 

On the TCPA Defense Force blog, we speculated about how Justice Kavanaugh’s prior opinions, writings, and even his admiration for the late Justice Antonin Scalia could affect his approach to issues that come before the Supreme Court – particularly those surrounding the TCPA and judicial deference to federal regulatory agencies.  And, as we will discuss later in the countdown, this prediction is already proving to be true.

Related Blog Posts:

5 - Reassigned numbers database

Coming in at number 5 we have the issue of reassigned numbers database.

Squeaking in right before the year’s end, the FCC unanimously voted to adopt its proposed order mandating the creation of a comprehensive reassigned number database.

Beyond establishing a single, comprehensive reassigned number database that will enable callers to verify whether a telephone number has been permanently disconnected or reassigned, the final order creates a very limited safe harbor provision that will protect callers from TCPA liability. 

Related Blog Posts:

4 - Text messages classified as “Information Service”

Taking the number 4 spot in our countdown is the FCC’s declaratory ruling classifying SMS and MMS text messages as information services as opposed to telecommunications services.

A telecommunications service classification would have prevented carriers from blocking text messages, including those they consider to be spam. But, by classifying text messages as an information service, the FCC gives carriers the legal right to block text messages and censor text content without running afoul of government regulation. 

Whether carriers will use this new ruling to simply block automatic spam texts, block competitors’ texts, or even stifle free speech, will certainly be an issue to keep an eye on in 2019.

Related Blog Posts:

3 - Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Cases Involving Agency Deference

Taking the number three spot, as briefly mentioned in Number 6, the Supreme Court granted certiorari review in PDR Network, LLC v. Carlton & Harris Chiropractic, Inc., a TCPA case relating to unsolicited fax advertisements. . In short, the Supreme Court will decide whether lower courts are bound to follow the FCC’S legal interpretation of the TCPA under the Hobbs Act or whether the lower courts are free to apply their own understanding of the statutory language.

The Supreme Court has also granted cert in a second case, Kisor v. Wilkie, which will examine a deference doctrine known as Seminole Rock or Auer deference.  Combined, these two cases could fundamentally transform the interplay between courts and federal regulatory agencies in the United States, shifting more power to the courts and away from executive branch agencies.

Related Blog Posts:

2 – ATDS Interpretation Debate

This year’s runner up, is the debate over what constitutes an automated telephone dialing system (ATDS) under the TCPA.

The TCPA defines an ATDS 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.”

In Marks v. Crunch San Diego, LLC, the Ninth Circuit found the statutory definition of an ATDS was ambiguous. By applying its own interpretation of the statute, it essentially redefined the TCPA.

The court found the term “ATDS” means equipment that has the capacity to (1) store numbers to be called OR (2) to produce numbers to be called, using a random or sequential number generator – and to dial such numbers. 

By finding that an ATDS includes equipment that merely stores numbers to be called, the Ninth Circuit essentially incorporated ordinary smartphones back into the definition of an ATDS – A problem that the Court in our #1 spot sought to resolve and it created a split in the Courts.

Related Blog Posts:

1 – D.C. Circuit Court Decision

The biggest news in TCPA this year is that the D.C. Circuit’s long awaited decision in ACA International v. FCC

First and foremost, the Court set aside the FCC’s “expansive” definition of an ATDS – which like the subsequent decision in Marks, was broad enough to include cell phones.  As a result of this ruling, we’ve seen an avalanche of court opinions coming out in different ways on what is or is not an ATDS.

Next, the D.C. Circuit struck down the FCC’s ruling on reassigned numbers on that basis that the “one-call safe harbor” was arbitrary and capricious.

Third, on the issue of revocation of consent, the D.C. Circuit upheld the FCC’s order that revocation can be effectuated by “any reasonable means.” 

And finally, the court upheld the FCC’s exemption from TCPA liability for certain health care related calls.   

Related Blog Posts:

[View source.]

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Womble Bond Dickinson | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Womble Bond Dickinson

Womble Bond Dickinson on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
- hide

JD Supra Privacy Policy

Updated: May 25, 2018:

JD Supra is a legal publishing service that connects experts and their content with broader audiences of professionals, journalists and associations.

This Privacy Policy describes how JD Supra, LLC ("JD Supra" or "we," "us," or "our") collects, uses and shares personal data collected from visitors to our website (located at (our "Website") who view only publicly-available content as well as subscribers to our services (such as our email digests or author tools)(our "Services"). By using our Website and registering for one of our Services, you are agreeing to the terms of this Privacy Policy.

Please note that if you subscribe to one of our Services, you can make choices about how we collect, use and share your information through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard (available if you are logged into your JD Supra account).

Collection of Information

Registration Information. When you register with JD Supra for our Website and Services, either as an author or as a subscriber, you will be asked to provide identifying information to create your JD Supra account ("Registration Data"), such as your:

  • Email
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Company Name
  • Company Industry
  • Title
  • Country

Other Information: We also collect other information you may voluntarily provide. This may include content you provide for publication. We may also receive your communications with others through our Website and Services (such as contacting an author through our Website) or communications directly with us (such as through email, feedback or other forms or social media). If you are a subscribed user, we will also collect your user preferences, such as the types of articles you would like to read.

Information from third parties (such as, from your employer or LinkedIn): We may also receive information about you from third party sources. For example, your employer may provide your information to us, such as in connection with an article submitted by your employer for publication. If you choose to use LinkedIn to subscribe to our Website and Services, we also collect information related to your LinkedIn account and profile.

Your interactions with our Website and Services: As is true of most websites, we gather certain information automatically. This information includes IP addresses, browser type, Internet service provider (ISP), referring/exit pages, operating system, date/time stamp and clickstream data. We use this information to analyze trends, to administer the Website and our Services, to improve the content and performance of our Website and Services, and to track users' movements around the site. We may also link this automatically-collected data to personal information, for example, to inform authors about who has read their articles. Some of this data is collected through information sent by your web browser. We also use cookies and other tracking technologies to collect this information. To learn more about cookies and other tracking technologies that JD Supra may use on our Website and Services please see our "Cookies Guide" page.

How do we use this information?

We use the information and data we collect principally in order to provide our Website and Services. More specifically, we may use your personal information to:

  • Operate our Website and Services and publish content;
  • Distribute content to you in accordance with your preferences as well as to provide other notifications to you (for example, updates about our policies and terms);
  • Measure readership and usage of the Website and Services;
  • Communicate with you regarding your questions and requests;
  • Authenticate users and to provide for the safety and security of our Website and Services;
  • Conduct research and similar activities to improve our Website and Services; and
  • Comply with our legal and regulatory responsibilities and to enforce our rights.

How is your information shared?

  • Content and other public information (such as an author profile) is shared on our Website and Services, including via email digests and social media feeds, and is accessible to the general public.
  • If you choose to use our Website and Services to communicate directly with a company or individual, such communication may be shared accordingly.
  • Readership information is provided to publishing law firms and authors of content to give them insight into their readership and to help them to improve their content.
  • Our Website may offer you the opportunity to share information through our Website, such as through Facebook's "Like" or Twitter's "Tweet" button. We offer this functionality to help generate interest in our Website and content and to permit you to recommend content to your contacts. You should be aware that sharing through such functionality may result in information being collected by the applicable social media network and possibly being made publicly available (for example, through a search engine). Any such information collection would be subject to such third party social media network's privacy policy.
  • Your information may also be shared to parties who support our business, such as professional advisors as well as web-hosting providers, analytics providers and other information technology providers.
  • Any court, governmental authority, law enforcement agency or other third party where we believe disclosure is necessary to comply with a legal or regulatory obligation, or otherwise to protect our rights, the rights of any third party or individuals' personal safety, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or safety issues.
  • To our affiliated entities and in connection with the sale, assignment or other transfer of our company or our business.

How We Protect Your Information

JD Supra takes reasonable and appropriate precautions to insure that user information is protected from loss, misuse and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration and destruction. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. You should keep in mind that no Internet transmission is ever 100% secure or error-free. Where you use log-in credentials (usernames, passwords) on our Website, please remember that it is your responsibility to safeguard them. If you believe that your log-in credentials have been compromised, please contact us at

Children's Information

Our Website and Services are not directed at children under the age of 16 and we do not knowingly collect personal information from children under the age of 16 through our Website and/or Services. If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 has provided personal information to us, please contact us, and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.

Links to Other Websites

Our Website and Services may contain links to other websites. The operators of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using our Website or Services and click a link to another site, you will leave our Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We are not responsible for the data collection and use practices of such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of our Website and Services and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Information for EU and Swiss Residents

JD Supra's principal place of business is in the United States. By subscribing to our website, you expressly consent to your information being processed in the United States.

  • Our Legal Basis for Processing: Generally, we rely on our legitimate interests in order to process your personal information. For example, we rely on this legal ground if we use your personal information to manage your Registration Data and administer our relationship with you; to deliver our Website and Services; understand and improve our Website and Services; report reader analytics to our authors; to personalize your experience on our Website and Services; and where necessary to protect or defend our or another's rights or property, or to detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security, safety or privacy issues. Please see Article 6(1)(f) of the E.U. General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR") In addition, there may be other situations where other grounds for processing may exist, such as where processing is a result of legal requirements (GDPR Article 6(1)(c)) or for reasons of public interest (GDPR Article 6(1)(e)). Please see the "Your Rights" section of this Privacy Policy immediately below for more information about how you may request that we limit or refrain from processing your personal information.
  • Your Rights
    • Right of Access/Portability: You can ask to review details about the information we hold about you and how that information has been used and disclosed. Note that we may request to verify your identification before fulfilling your request. You can also request that your personal information is provided to you in a commonly used electronic format so that you can share it with other organizations.
    • Right to Correct Information: You may ask that we make corrections to any information we hold, if you believe such correction to be necessary.
    • Right to Restrict Our Processing or Erasure of Information: You also have the right in certain circumstances to ask us to restrict processing of your personal information or to erase your personal information. Where you have consented to our use of your personal information, you can withdraw your consent at any time.

You can make a request to exercise any of these rights by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

You can also manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard.

We will make all practical efforts to respect your wishes. There may be times, however, where we are not able to fulfill your request, for example, if applicable law prohibits our compliance. Please note that JD Supra does not use "automatic decision making" or "profiling" as those terms are defined in the GDPR.

  • Timeframe for retaining your personal information: We will retain your personal information in a form that identifies you only for as long as it serves the purpose(s) for which it was initially collected as stated in this Privacy Policy, or subsequently authorized. We may continue processing your personal information for longer periods, but only for the time and to the extent such processing reasonably serves the purposes of archiving in the public interest, journalism, literature and art, scientific or historical research and statistical analysis, and subject to the protection of this Privacy Policy. For example, if you are an author, your personal information may continue to be published in connection with your article indefinitely. When we have no ongoing legitimate business need to process your personal information, we will either delete or anonymize it, or, if this is not possible (for example, because your personal information has been stored in backup archives), then we will securely store your personal information and isolate it from any further processing until deletion is possible.
  • Onward Transfer to Third Parties: As noted in the "How We Share Your Data" Section above, JD Supra may share your information with third parties. When JD Supra discloses your personal information to third parties, we have ensured that such third parties have either certified under the EU-U.S. or Swiss Privacy Shield Framework and will process all personal data received from EU member states/Switzerland in reliance on the applicable Privacy Shield Framework or that they have been subjected to strict contractual provisions in their contract with us to guarantee an adequate level of data protection for your data.

California Privacy Rights

Pursuant to Section 1798.83 of the California Civil Code, our customers who are California residents have the right to request certain information regarding our disclosure of personal information to third parties for their direct marketing purposes.

You can make a request for this information by emailing us at or by writing to us at:

Privacy Officer
JD Supra, LLC
10 Liberty Ship Way, Suite 300
Sausalito, California 94965

Some browsers have incorporated a Do Not Track (DNT) feature. These features, when turned on, send a signal that you prefer that the website you are visiting not collect and use data regarding your online searching and browsing activities. As there is not yet a common understanding on how to interpret the DNT signal, we currently do not respond to DNT signals on our site.

Access/Correct/Update/Delete Personal Information

For non-EU/Swiss residents, if you would like to know what personal information we have about you, you can send an e-mail to We will be in contact with you (by mail or otherwise) to verify your identity and provide you the information you request. We will respond within 30 days to your request for access to your personal information. In some cases, we may not be able to remove your personal information, in which case we will let you know if we are unable to do so and why. If you would like to correct or update your personal information, you can manage your profile and subscriptions through our Privacy Center under the "My Account" dashboard. If you would like to delete your account or remove your information from our Website and Services, send an e-mail to

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Privacy Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our Privacy Policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use our Website and Services following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this Privacy Policy, the practices of this site, your dealings with our Website or Services, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

JD Supra Cookie Guide

As with many websites, JD Supra's website (located at (our "Website") and our services (such as our email article digests)(our "Services") use a standard technology called a "cookie" and other similar technologies (such as, pixels and web beacons), which are small data files that are transferred to your computer when you use our Website and Services. These technologies automatically identify your browser whenever you interact with our Website and Services.

How We Use Cookies and Other Tracking Technologies

We use cookies and other tracking technologies to:

  1. Improve the user experience on our Website and Services;
  2. Store the authorization token that users receive when they login to the private areas of our Website. This token is specific to a user's login session and requires a valid username and password to obtain. It is required to access the user's profile information, subscriptions, and analytics;
  3. Track anonymous site usage; and
  4. Permit connectivity with social media networks to permit content sharing.

There are different types of cookies and other technologies used our Website, notably:

  • "Session cookies" - These cookies only last as long as your online session, and disappear from your computer or device when you close your browser (like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari).
  • "Persistent cookies" - These cookies stay on your computer or device after your browser has been closed and last for a time specified in the cookie. We use persistent cookies when we need to know who you are for more than one browsing session. For example, we use them to remember your preferences for the next time you visit.
  • "Web Beacons/Pixels" - Some of our web pages and emails may also contain small electronic images known as web beacons, clear GIFs or single-pixel GIFs. These images are placed on a web page or email and typically work in conjunction with cookies to collect data. We use these images to identify our users and user behavior, such as counting the number of users who have visited a web page or acted upon one of our email digests.

JD Supra Cookies. We place our own cookies on your computer to track certain information about you while you are using our Website and Services. For example, we place a session cookie on your computer each time you visit our Website. We use these cookies to allow you to log-in to your subscriber account. In addition, through these cookies we are able to collect information about how you use the Website, including what browser you may be using, your IP address, and the URL address you came from upon visiting our Website and the URL you next visit (even if those URLs are not on our Website). We also utilize email web beacons to monitor whether our emails are being delivered and read. We also use these tools to help deliver reader analytics to our authors to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

Analytics/Performance Cookies. JD Supra also uses the following analytic tools to help us analyze the performance of our Website and Services as well as how visitors use our Website and Services:

  • HubSpot - For more information about HubSpot cookies, please visit
  • New Relic - For more information on New Relic cookies, please visit
  • Google Analytics - For more information on Google Analytics cookies, visit To opt-out of being tracked by Google Analytics across all websites visit This will allow you to download and install a Google Analytics cookie-free web browser.

Facebook, Twitter and other Social Network Cookies. Our content pages allow you to share content appearing on our Website and Services to your social media accounts through the "Like," "Tweet," or similar buttons displayed on such pages. To accomplish this Service, we embed code that such third party social networks provide and that we do not control. These buttons know that you are logged in to your social network account and therefore such social networks could also know that you are viewing the JD Supra Website.

Controlling and Deleting Cookies

If you would like to change how a browser uses cookies, including blocking or deleting cookies from the JD Supra Website and Services you can do so by changing the settings in your web browser. To control cookies, most browsers allow you to either accept or reject all cookies, only accept certain types of cookies, or prompt you every time a site wishes to save a cookie. It's also easy to delete cookies that are already saved on your device by a browser.

The processes for controlling and deleting cookies vary depending on which browser you use. To find out how to do so with a particular browser, you can use your browser's "Help" function or alternatively, you can visit which explains, step-by-step, how to control and delete cookies in most browsers.

Updates to This Policy

We may update this cookie policy and our Privacy Policy from time-to-time, particularly as technology changes. You can always check this page for the latest version. We may also notify you of changes to our privacy policy by email.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about how we use cookies and other tracking technologies, please contact us at:

- hide

This website uses cookies to improve user experience, track anonymous site usage, store authorization tokens and permit sharing on social media networks. By continuing to browse this website you accept the use of cookies. Click here to read more about how we use cookies.