Last week, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed a putative class-action lawsuit filed against Life360, Inc. (“Life360”), a family networking app, for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). At issue in the litigation was whether Life360 could be held liable for sending invitation text messages to the contacts of Life360 users. The Court found that the affirmative steps taken by users that cause the subject text messages to be sent exempted Life360 from TCPA liability.
Why Life360 is not Liable for Invitational Text Messages?
Life360 Exempt from TCPA Liability Due to Human Intervention
According to the allegations of the complaint, after a user downloads the Life360 app and creates an account, the user is asked “want to see others on your map?” If the user clicks “Yes,” Life360 is granted access to the user’s contact list. If the user clicks “No,” no invitational text message is sent. If the user selects the yes option, he or she is brought to a screen to “Add Member[s],” with certain “Recommended” members pre-selected by an algorithm created by Life360. Users click on the names of the contacts they would like to invite and click the “Invite” button. As the Court stated, “[a]t no time does Life360 indicate to users how invitations will be sent, nor does Life360 inform users of when invitations will be sent.” Nevertheless, the Court found that Life360 was not liable under the TCPA for sending the invitational text messages at issue.
In reaching its decision, the Court analyzed the facts before it through the prism of two recent opinions: the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) decision in In the Matter of Rules & Regulations Implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (the “Glide Decision”) and the Northern District of California decision in Glauser v. GroupMe, Inc. (the “GroupMe Decision”). In the Glide Decision, the FCC concluded that the company Glide Talk, Ltd. “makes” calls when it “automatically sends invitational texts of its own choosing to every contact in the app user’s contact list with little or no obvious control by the user.” In the GroupMe Decision, the Court found that the company GroupMe, Inc. was not subject to TCPA liability due to the “affirmative choices by the app user” in selecting who receives messages. In the case before the Court, although Life360 exercised control over the content of the text messages at issue in the proceeding, the Court found that the facts before it were closer to those in the GroupMe Decision than those in the Glide Decision.
Increasingly, federal and state courts are scrutinizing the factual allegations involved in TCPA actions early on in the course of litigation. We recently blogged about common carrier status being used to avoid TCPA liability. Given the potential TCPA exposure in today’s regulatory climate, companies should examine their business practices with counsel in order to avoid telemarketing complaints altogether.