For immediate release: Jan 19, 2012
Posted by: [Attorney General]
Contact: Erin Reece
Phone: 317.232.0168

Zoeller continues defense of consumers' telephone privacy rights

Federal appeals court to hear arguments on Indiana's robo-call ban Friday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is set to hear arguments Friday in a case challenging Indiana's ban on robo-calls.

"The state will use all of our resources available to continue defending our state's laws and consumers in this latest challenge to our auto-dialing statutes," said Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller.

Arguments will take place at 9:30 a.m. in the Main Courtroom, Room 2721, located at 219 S. Dearborn St. in Chicago, Ill. Zoeller plans to attend the hearing.

The court recently granted Indiana's request for a stay of a federal district court's injunction against enforcing a ban on interstate robo-calls. The stay allows the state to enforce its auto-dialer law until a full appeal of the district court's injunction is completed.

On Sept. 27, the federal district court in Indianapolis ruled that Indiana's law is preempted by the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which allows for these types of calls. The decision came after a political advocacy organization based in Illinois, Patriotic Veterans Inc., challenged Indiana's Automatic Dialing Machine Statute.

"This case reflects only a portion of the overall efforts of the Attorney General's Office to protect the state's strict telephone privacy laws," Zoeller said. "Consumers have come to know and expect to be shielded from unwanted robo-calls. That's why our office will continue the fight against current and future challenges to these important protections."

In a separate case, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state's ban on robo-calls to homeowners by determining the Autodialer Law does not violate free speech. The 4-1 decision came after FreeEats.com contested the constitutionality of Indiana's law after robo-calling Indiana residents during a 2006 congressional campaign. Zoeller said the final decision in the case is still pending.

Telemarketers, including those calling on behalf of campaigns and political groups, are allowed to make automated calls to households only if a live operator first obtains the consumer's permission or if the recipient opts in to receiving such calls.

Recently, the sponsor of federal legislation that would have allowed robo-calls to cell phones pulled the bill known as the "Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011." Zoeller led the effort that culminated in a joint letter sent by nearly all state attorneys general asking Congress to oppose the bill.

Over the past two years, more than 10,000 complaints have been filed with the Attorney General's Office about unwanted telemarketing calls - with about 72 percent of them concerning autodialed calls.

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