Putting robodialers on hold. The United States Congress is considering substantial changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Passed in 1991, the TCPA provides many protections to consumers regarding the use of automated dialing systems, prerecorded voice messages, SMS messages and unsolicited faxes. Many will remember with relief the day that the Act’s “Do Not Call” list was implemented. It was one of those glorious moments when our government seemed to work. The day before the DNC list, you were bombarded by people calling to get you to change long distance companies. The day after the list … blissful silence. Needless to say, anything government does right, it will undo.
Warning, Will Robinson! The U.S. Congress is trying to cave in to the people who would take us back to the days of autodialers and unsolicited solicitations. HR3035, with the sickly sweet title, “Mobile Information Act of 2011″ turns back the clock 20 years or so. First, it narrows the definition of “automatic telephone number dialing system.” In fact, it narrows the definition to old approaches rarely used today. Many of today’s more sophisticated targeted dialers are excluded from regulation by this legislative trickery. Second, it grants consent for unsolicited calls each and every time you give your cell phone number to anybody. Verbally or in writing, it matters not. Give your cell phone number to a customer service rep? You are now available for a lifetime of automated harassment. Finally, the act “pretends to protect” by banning automated calls to cell phones, “unless the call is made for a commercial purpose that does not constitute a telephone solicitation.” Your warranty expired. It’s about to expire. We’re just verifying your address. There are many ways to advertise without being solicitous and the robots will use them all.
Cooch’s line goes dead. This bill is so bad that it has actually united American politicians across the political divide. The Attorneys General from 48 states and 6 U.S. territories signed a letter to Congress demanding that the bill be rejected. 48 states! Now, which two states do you think missed the bus? Virginia and Nebraska. You can read the letter here. I have looked in the usual Internet spots for any commentary from Ken Cuccinelli as to why he declined to sign a letter that 48 out of 50 U..S Attorneys General signed. Nothing. Silence. If anybody knows of Mr. Cuccinelli’s thinking on this matter, please let me know. Perhaps he’s providing this silence as solace for the day when our cell phones will start ringing off the hook. Or, maybe he’s just asleep at the switch.
Pulling a Kaine. Tim Kaine famously went AWOL from his job as Virginia’s governor in the midst of a paralyzing recession. Gov. Kaine got a new job as the head of the Democratic National Committee while still governor. He hit the road in Gulfstreams and Lear jets to keep America safe for Democrats. It appears that AG Cuccinelli is doing the same thing. Too busy popping off about Rail to Dulles to bother with the mundane tasks of the office to which he was elected. Too busy running for governor to either join the AGs of 48 other states or declare why Virginians should relish the return of the robocallers. At least Tim Kaine had the decency to wait until he was within eyesight of the end of his term. Cooch is AWOL at just about the half way point.
By … Groveton