Zoeller expected to testify in D.C. on robo-call bill

Jessica M. Karmasek Nov. 3, 2011, 12:58pm


INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is expected to testify Friday in opposition to proposed federal legislation aiming to strike down the state's Do Not Call and Do Not Fax laws.

The attorney general will testify before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology regarding House Resolution 3035, also known as the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011.

"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 in a statement Wednesday.

"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."

HR 3035 would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and allow for robo-calling to all cell phones, leaving consumers to foot the bill, Zoeller argues.

On top of which, 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, according to the Attorney General's Office.

Since the law went into effect Jan. 1, 2002, Zoeller's office has obtained more than 250 settlements with or judgments against telemarketers, resulting in awards of penalties and costs totaling more than $14.5 million.

This isn't the state's first challenge over robo-calls to its residents.

In September, Zoeller announced he would appeal a federal court ruling preventing Indiana from enforcing its law prohibiting out-of-state political calls.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled in favor of Patriotic Veterans Inc., a political advocacy organization based in Illinois, in its legal challenge to Indiana's Automatic Dialing Machine Statute.

State law allows robo-calls to households only if a live operator first obtains the consumer's permission or if the recipient opts in to receiving such calls.

Under the Automatic Dialing Machine statute, violations of the law can result in the attorney general filing a lawsuit seeking an injunction and civil penalties up to $5,000 against those responsible.

The political group filed the federal lawsuit last June, challenging the statute's legality.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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