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Legal Questions about TCPA Compliance Persist Three Decades Later

David Kalat

March 26, 2020

Congress moved quickly after a 1990 incident at Emory University and passed the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. But questions linger about TCPA compliance.

Atlanta’s Emory University was paralyzed in December 1990 by the telephone equivalent of a distributed denial-of-service attack—similar to how hackers can shut down a website by bombarding it with incoming requests until the server freezes.

Each of Emory’s 10,000 telephone extensions received a prerecorded call advertising a sweepstakes. Due to technology limitations of the time, recipients had no way to disconnect—hanging up the receiver had no effect. University officials tried desperately to identify and contact the company responsible, but the calls snarled the university’s telephone system for three days.

Congress acted in response to what happened at Emory and to similar instances elsewhere. But the fallout is still not fully understood nearly 30 years later.


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David Kalat