For immediate release: Nov 02, 2011
Posted by: [Attorney General]
Contact: Erin Reece
Phone: 317.232.0168

Hoosiers' telephone privacy rights under fire in Congress and courts

AG Zoeller says Mobile Informational Call Act would strike down Indiana's Do Not Call law

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Hoosiers' long-standing telephone privacy rights are under attack by proposed federal legislation aiming to strike down Indiana's Do Not Call and Do Not Fax laws, according to Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Zoeller called on Hoosiers today to share their opinions with their congressional representatives about House Resolution 3035 known as the "Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011." Zoeller has been invited to testify in opposition of the proposal on Friday before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing in Washington, D.C..

"This measure proposed by Congress constitutes a federal assault on Americans' privacy that would allow robo-call messages to be sent en masse to people who do not want and have to pay for these calls," Zoeller said. "There is a clear and present danger that Hoosiers' privacy will be disrupted in the sanctity of their homes. This is not the help constituents need from Washington, D.C."

House Resolution 3035 would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and allow for robo-calling to all cell phones, leaving consumers to foot the bill, Zoeller said. State attorneys general would not be able to enforce state laws against junk faxes, prerecorded calls or text messages.

More than 2 million phone numbers are currently on Indiana's Do Not Call list. Since the Do Not Call law went into effect Jan. 1, 2002, the Attorney General's Office has obtained 273 settlements with or judgments against telemarketers, resulting in awards of penalties and costs totaling more than $14.5 million.

At the request of Zoeller, the Attorney General's Office launched a free email and text message update service, called "Privacy Alerts," that Hoosiers can sign up for to receive updates on the bill's progress. To sign up consumers can visit www.indianaconsumer.com.

Hoosiers can also voice their opinion on the proposal by contacting their representative or by visiting Popvox's nonpartisan website at https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr3035. Popvox will forward your comments to your members of Congress.

Zoeller said two separate ongoing court cases are also challenging Hoosiers' right to telephone privacy. The Attorney General's Office has appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court to hear a recent lower court ruling that would allow automated calls from political candidates. FreeEats.com challenged whether the state should be constitutionally allowed to restrict robo-calls to residents.

"People's rights of privacy include the right to be free from the ringing of their phones from those they have not specifically asked to hear from," Zoeller said.

Patriotic Veterans Inc. also challenged Indiana's Automatic Dialing Machine Statute. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled the state's ban on robo-calls playing political messages cannot be enforced if the calls originate outside Indiana, but the Attorney General's Office is appealing the decision.

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