By FRANK LEWIS
PDT Staff Writer
Cellular phone use costs money. In many cases, every minute used on a cell phone has a price and counts against the minutes allowed in the consumer’s contract, which is why Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has joined 53 other attorneys general in a letter to Congress asking it to oppose legislation targeting consumers’ telephone privacy.
“The ‘Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011’ (HR 3035) would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and allow for robo-calling to all cell phones, leaving consumers to foot the bill,” DeWine said. “For example, debt collectors and other businesses could place automated ‘informational’ calls to cell phones, which would have an impact on those who pay by the minute or have a limited number of minutes available.”
DeWine said, in addition, since businesses frequently have the wrong contact information, consumers could be getting and paying for repeated robo-calls on their cell phones to accounts that are not their own.
“This bill would be an assault on citizens’ privacy,” DeWine said. “There could also be a monetary cost as these robo-calls eat up the recipients’ phone minutes with calls they don’t need or want.”
He said the legislation would also narrow the definition of what constitutes an illegal “automatic telephone dialing system.” If passed, the new definition would only prohibit “random or sequential number generators” which means “targeted” calls would be permitted.
Currently, federal law allows robo-calls to be placed to people who have given their explicit consent to receive them or in case of an emergency. If this federal legislation passes, the law will be expanded to allow businesses to robo-call any consumer who has provided their telephone number in the course of a transaction — regardless if a consumer asks not to be contacted.