August 16, 2019

Fifth Circuit Court Examines ATDS Definition and Scope of the TCPA

Examining the ATDS Definition

Last week, the case of Adams v. Safe Home Security, Inc. in Texas became the first case to address the definition of an ATDS and the scope of the TCPA after the noteworthy ACA International case decision.

The court reached its conclusion that to qualify as an ATDS, a device must have the ability to store and produce telephone numbers randomly and sequentially, and that predictive dialers fall outside the definition of an ATDS. Their decision was based upon the following:

  • The D.C. Circuit’s ruling in ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission invalidated the 2015 Declaratory Ruling and resultingly overturned the reasoning that a predictive dialer qualifies as an ATDS found in the 2003 and 2008 rulings.
  • From there, the court “independently interpreted the statute to determine the scope of the definition of an ATDS and whether it applies to predictive dialers.”
  • Further, the Court examined the definition of an ATDS, deciding that “an ATDS must both store and produce numbers that are randomly and sequentially generated and not merely story any numbers.” The Court also notably rejected the Ninth Circuit’s Marks decision (which stated an ATDS includes devices that make calls from a list of stored numbers).

With the arrival of this case, there is a least one district court in each of the eleven Circuits that is addressing the definition of an ATDS in some form.


Navigating the state and federal regulatory maze while mitigating TCPA risk can be a challenge for compliance leaders; especially in the wake of decisions like ACA International v. Federal Communications Commission that are changing the regulatory landscape.

Not to mention, when dealing with agents in branch offices, reps using personal phones, or independents and BPOs marketing on your behalf, this risk is even greater. Learn how you can protect your organization from costly TCPA fines and penalties.