You know those annoying automated calls that result in a robotic voice saying “Please hold for an important message”? Well, new legislation, if passed, would allow them to your cell phone! A concerted effort by several legislators and large businesses has resulted in Federal bill HR3035, which would allow businesses to initiate automated calls (so called “robo calls”) to cell phones whose owners have ‘given permission’ for the robocalls.
BUT! “Permission” for robodialing is defined as providing your cell number to the business at any time (even years ago), and in just about any context – just having provided your cell number at any time past or present is enough, you don’t have to say “and please robo dial me.” It’s kind of the “they asked for it” theory of automated dialing phone spam. (Note: This article includes links to make it very easy for you to write to your representative to register your displeasure with this assault on your privacy.)
Until now, your cell phone has been protected from this assault by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA).
Culprits behind this include, not surprisingly, among others, the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The legislators who are fronting this for them include (and be sure to contact them to register your displeasure) Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, John Gingrey of Georgia, Leonard Lance of New Jersey, Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri, David McKinley of West Virginia, Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, Pete Olson of Texas, Michael Rogers of Michigan, and Edolphus Towns of New York.
Whining about why they need access to send automated calls to your cell phone, those pushing the bill wrote to Congressman Fred Upton and Representative Henry Waxman, complaining that “the TCPA restricts informational calls that utilize assistive technologies to mobile devices even though the law permits such calls to be made to wireline phones. As a result, the approximately 40% of American consumers who identify their mobile device as their primary or exclusive means of communication do not receive many of these calls.”
You know, somehow we’re ok with not receiving those calls.
Here is the full text of the letter that was sent
September 23, 2011
The Honorable Fred Upton
Chairman Ranking Minority Member
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Henry Waxman
House Committee on Energy and Commerce House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2322A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Minority Member Waxman:
We the undersigned write to express our strong support for H.R. 3035, the Mobile
Informational Call Act of 2011. This legislation will modernize the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) by enacting limited, common-sense revisions to facilitate the delivery of time-sensitive consumer information to mobile devices, while continuing to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.
Businesses increasingly rely on advanced communications technologies to convey timely
and important information to consumers. These calls notify consumers about threats such as data breaches and fraud alerts, provide timely notice of flight and service appointment cancellations and drug recalls, and protect consumers against the adverse consequences of failure to make timely payments on an account.
Unfortunately, the TCPA restricts informational calls that utilize assistive technologies to mobile devices even though the law permits such calls to be made to wireline phones. As a result, the approximately 40% of American consumers who identify their mobile device as their primary or exclusive means of communication do not receive many of these calls.
This restriction imposes unwarranted costs and inconveniences on consumers, businesses, and the economy as a whole. When enacted in 1991, Congress intended this restriction to protect consumers against the then-daunting per-minute costs and privacy concerns associated with unsolicited incoming calls from telemarketers. But this restriction applies equally to informational calls. In addition, most wireless consumers are now covered by flat-rate plans, and even for those who are not, technological advances and increased competition have greatly reduced per-minute charges.(Article continues below)
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A strong consumer-protection environment depends on appropriate communication between businesses and their customers. As consumers increasingly rely on wireless phones as their primary, or even sole, means of communication, the TCPA’s outdated restriction on the use of assistive technologies in contacting wireless consumers for non-telemarketing purposes is now doing far more harm than good for the consumers such restriction was intended to protect.
For these reasons, we strongly support H.R. 3035. This bill will modernize the TCPA by:
* Exempting informational calls from the restriction on auto-dialer and artificial/prerecorded voice calls to wireless numbers;
* Clarifying the “prior express consent” requirement to ensure that the TCPA facilitates communications between consumers and the businesses with which they choose to interact; and
* Excluding from the restriction equipment that merely stores pre-determined numbers or that has latent (but unused) capacity to generate random or sequential numbers.
In addition, H.R. 3035 will continue the prohibition against the use of assistive technologies to call wireless numbers for telemarketing purposes. We commend Representatives Terry and Towns for introducing this legislation.
Congress should act now to modernize the TCPA’s treatment of informational calls to
consumers, while preserving its original intent to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls. We urge the Energy and Commerce Committee to appprove [sic] this legislation as soon as possible.
American Bankers Association
Air Transport Association
Consumer Bankers Association
Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations
Edison Electric Institute
Education Finance Council
Financial Services Roundtable
Housing Policy Council
Mortgage Bankers Association
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
National Council of Higher Education Loan Program
Student Loan Servicing Alliance
Student Loan Servicing Alliance Private Loan Committee
The Clearing House
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Here are direct links to contact each of the co-sponsors of the bill, to register your opinion and feelings about this proposed change to the protection of your privacy:
Marsha Blackburn [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
Phil Gingrey [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
Leonard Lance [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
Blaine Luetkemyer [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
David McKinley [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
Mick Mulvaney [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
Pete Olson of Texas (only accepts contact from those in his district)
Michael Rogers of Michigan (only accepts contact from those in his district)
Edolphus Towns [Page no longer available – we have linked to the archive.org version instead]
You can read the full text of HR3035 here.
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