Are the Robots Coming?

Please Take Action or the Phone Robots Will Return

If a new bill gets through Congress, marketing robots will invade your cell phone.

The robocalls return—this time on your cell phone? Even consumers have unlimited plans, who wants robocalls for marketing products and candidates? People who drive while on cell phones. If Congress increases the number of calls consumers receive, that decision could be deadly.

 

Congress may approve Robot Marketing Calls to cell phones robocalls

 

Today, Congress is reviewing proposed federal legislation to expand robocalling to cell phones. After you read a little more about this proposed legislation, you can decide whether you want to sign the petition against it.

Imagine this scenario: it’s 2008 again, and your cell phone rings. It’s a political call from GOP presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain:

Hello. I’m calling for John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama won’t stop repeating those stupid Chuck Norris facts. For example, before the third debate, Barack opened a bag of Lay’s potato chips. My friends, I knew what was coming. I’ve been tested. It was either a Chuck Norris joke or a Seinfeld double dip. John McCain gets it. Chuck Norris can only eat one. But don’t be fooled. Barack Obama was just pandering to the Florida vote. But you need to know that Barack Obama was for the cancellation of Walker, Texas Ranger before he was against it. And he also hates Everybody Loves Raymond. That’s not reaching across the aisle. That’s changing the channel on small-town American values. Not on John McCain’s dial.

If Congress passes Rep. Lee Terry’s (R-NB) “Mobile Informational Call Act,” this bill would allow businesses to repeatedly hound you throughout the day, no matter where you are.

Terry posted the following explanation on his Congressional website:

The Mobile Informational Call Act reflects the reality of the day… People need to be reached in real time if their flight is delayed, their credit card numbers have been compromised, their medications have been recalled, their electricity restored, and for other time-sensitive information they may be interested in. This bill will help consumers receive timely and accurate information as soon as possible.

The bill strictly prohibits telephone solicitations and businesses must have prior express consent to contact consumers. The President has made a similar proposal in his deficit reduction plan.

[…]

Unfortunately, the [1991] Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) restricts informational calls to mobile devices… the TCPA’s outdated restriction on the use of assistive technologies in contacting wireless consumers for nontelemarketing purposes is now doing far more harm than good.

Whether Terry’s explanation is a violation of using taxpayer money to support private corporations is open to interpretation.

Unsurprisingly, the American Bankers Association and the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals support this bill.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile all adopted tiered data plans to save increase consumers’ increasing hunger for bandwidth. Those on newly restricted plans are attempting to save money by using Skype and cutting back to cheaper plans that charge for a fixed number of minutes. If prepaid cell phone customers lose minutes they add to a prepaid calling card, those consumers may lose a lot of money.

Proponents say the 1991 bill restricts doctors’ offices from using automated calls to contact patients and stops schools from alerting parents via robocalls of snow days. (Many schools already provide this service to parents to parents who can subscribe for free.)

The National Association of Consumer Advocates, Consumer Watchdog and Consumer Federation of America, and other consumer interest groups warn the bill is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Opponents wrote in a letter to Congress The real purpose of (the bill) is to open up everyone’s cell phones, land lines, and business phone numbers, without their consent, to a flood of commercial, marketing and debt collection calls.

The decision will affect Americans’ 327 million network connections to 312 million people.

The bill requires mobile phone users give “prior express consent” for telemarketers to start hitting them up—but the term “consent” is not clearly defined.

If you provide your cell phone number when you buy products that decision can give merchants and their parent companies full license to robocall you into oblivion.


Mad Mike’s America thanks Forbes, Save the Internet, and Jason Silverstein (McSweeney’s Internet Tendency).


Please let Mad Mike’s America whether or not you signed the petition to prevent the reestablishment of robocalls.

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Posted by on November 16, 2011. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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