Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Kill The Mobile Phone Robo-Call Bill (H.R. 3035)

Legislation was introduced in Congress that would allow businesses to robo-call cell phones with unsolicited advertising. Proponents claim that this is an important upgrade to phone technology and existing law:
If you like getting those automated messages on your home phone, then you’re just going to love a proposal in Congress. The bill (H.R. 3035) would allow these “robo-calls” to your cell phone — even if you didn’t give a company permission to contact you at that number.

Supporters of the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011” include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Air Transport Association, as well as groups that represent bankers, mortgage lenders, college loan programs and debt collectors.

In a letter to Congress, they claim H.R. 3035 is needed to “modernize” existing law 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.”

They say robo-calls to cell phones would be used to alert you to food and drug recalls, data breaches, flight delays and appointment cancellations.

Howard Waltzman, an attorney representing the business groups supporting H.R. 3035, says this “non-marketing commercial information” is important to people. He tells me the ability to make contact via a mobile phone is “critical” because so many people now use a wireless device as their primary or only means of phone communication.
That's quite a bit of misinformation packed into a few paragraphs. Right now, as a Delta customer, I can get notifications of flight delays or issues to my phone - and I can give them that information.

There's no reason that a company with whom I do no business should be able to call my cell phone unsolicited. Fact is that most people pay for airtime - both in minutes outgoing and incoming. If these businesses are able to make these unsolicited calls, people are going to see their minutes used up that much quicker because these robo-calls will quickly fill up the airtime and are a direct cost imposed on the cell phone owner. It would also adversely affect those who use prepaid wireless plans (the majority of which are lower income users).

That's absolutely inexcusable.

People can opt in to receive all kinds of product updates and warnings, including food and drug recalls. There's no reason to give companies the right to make unsolicited calls. However, some of these businesses are seeing their revenues drop as an increasing number of people and businesses eliminate their land-line service and switch to cell-phone carriers.

That's the real financial impetus for the change.

Added a link to the MSNBC story. Also, here's a direct link to the text of the legislation.

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