Ind. AG will testify against cell phone bill

Bryan Cohen Nov. 3, 2011, 12:59pm


INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced on Wednesday that he will lobby Congress on Friday against a federal bill related to telephone privacy rights.

Zoeller said that the bill would strip the telephone privacy rights of residents in his state. The Republican-backed bill, which is being considered in the U.S. House, would allow debt collectors and telemarketers to start dialing residents' cell phones. If approved, the law would override Indiana's "Do Not Call" law and lead to a flood of robocalls to people's phones, Zoeller said on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

Zoeller plans to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.

"States' attorneys general would be unable to enforce our more strict state laws on 'Do Not Call' and (the proposal) would prohibit us from regulating junk faxes and prerecorded calls or text messages (to cellphones)," Zoeller said, according to the Associated Press.

The bill's supporters say it would update federal law to allow businesses to compete in an environment where cell phones have largely replaced landlines. They say the proposal makes modest updates to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The proposal has few sponsors at this point - eight Republicans and one Democrat in the House - but a group of powerful business interests is supporting the measure. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Edison Electric Institute and American Bankers Association and approximately 12 other organizations sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Republican chairman and ranking Democrat in support of the measure.

"Congress should act now to modernize the TCPA's treatment of informational calls to consumers, while preserving its original intent to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls," the coalition wrote in the September 23 letter to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), according to the Associated Press.

Zoeller did not say whether any members of Indiana's congressional delegation will support him on this issue, though while in Washington he hopes to approach the lawmakers.

In Indiana, Zoeller is battling on multiple legal fronts to maintain the state's strict "Do Not Call" law and its ban on political robocalls. In September, a federal judge ruled that the state's ban on political robocalls violated a federal statute governing interstate communications. The Indiana Supreme Court is separately considering whether the state rightfully enforced the measure against the business

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