Monday, March 14, 2011

Alaska State Senator Kevin Meyer Pushes SB40 To Restrict Political "Robocalls" And Other Unwanted Telephone Solicitations

Good news for Alaskans tired of being interrupted by mindless "robocalls", particularly during election campaigns. State Senator Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) has crafted legislation to impose severe restrictions upon such calls, and his bill will meet its first challenge on March 15th, 2011 before the Labor & Commerce Committee. The bill has also been referred to the Judiciary Committee.

The bill is designated SB40, and according to Senator Meyer's sponsor statement, it "prohibits the use of an automated telephone system, device, or facsimile machine for the selection and dialing of telephone numbers and playing of recorded messages if a message is completed to the dialed number for the purpose of offering goods or services for sale". Read the full text of the bill HERE.

The bill would apply to any group or person who uses telephone solicitation; no exemptions are granted to charities or non-profits. To address possible First Amendment court challenges, the bill limits the restriction to unsolicited calls only, and grants an exception if a live operator first obtained permission to let the robocall play. Robocalls were adopted by various candidates and groups as a means to minimize the expense of hiring live operators, but they are becoming universally reviled by the population, as you can see in comments posted to the Anchorage Daily News and Juneau Empire stories. Senator Meyer questions the need for such calls, saying e-mail and social networking are more effective and less invasive.

A big hat tip to Kevin Meyer for proposing pertinent legislation designed to curtail a genuine annoyance. Unsolicited phone calls force people to react whether they want to or not, and promote greater atomization throughout society by encouraging people to screen calls in advance while at home. Worse yet, since many cell phone service schemes require cell phone users to pay for calls they receive, they impose an unsolicited financial burden upon recipients.

At the Federal level, efforts to impose further restrictions on unsolicited calls nationally are under attack. On February 23rd, 2011, The Hill reported that top members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee were pressuring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not to ban robocalls to cell phones. Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), John Shimkus (R-Ill.) Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), and others wrote to the FCC in December to oppose such a ban. They were worried that restrictions proposed by the FCC in 2010 would ban automated calls to cell phones — even when the caller isn't a telemarketer. The FCC ban exempts nonprofit, emergency and political calls.

While making your phone number unlisted or unpublished will help deter these types of calls, the best way for people to deter robocalls is to instantly hang up upon receipt. If the practice backfires upon its perpetrators, it will eventually no longer be used.

1 comment:

  1. Marsha Blackburn and her robo calls. tsk tsk.

    Why does Marsha Want Congress to Regulate the Internet? Why not just say NO FEDERAL branch (the FCC and congress and the federal courts included) has any authority to decide or rule on any aspect concerning the Internet?

    BUT Marsha Blackburn did Vote FOR: Patriot Act Reauthorization, Electronic Surveillance, Funding the REAL ID Act (National ID), Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, Thought Crimes “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Warrantless Searches, Employee Verification Program, Body Imaging Screening, Patriot Act extension; and only NOW she is worried about free speech, privacy, and government take over of the internet?

    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    See her “blatantly unconstitutional” votes at :