AGs team against House bill

Bryan Cohen Nov. 11, 2011, 2:00am


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller joined Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in Chicago on Wednesday to warn consumers about House Resolution 3035, known as the "Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011."

If the resolution is passed, the proposal would amend the Communications Act of 1934 and allow robo-calling to all cell phones. Customers would be required to pay for these calls like normal calls. State attorneys general would not be able to enforce state laws against prerecorded calls, junk faxes or text messages.

"Consumers everywhere should know there is a federal proposal that would drive unwanted, costly robo-calls to their cell phones," Zoeller said. "Congress should be working to strengthen constituents' protections against unsolicited automated messages, not weakening them."

Zoeller testified in opposition of the proposal last Friday in Washington, D.C. before a U.S. House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology hearing.

"This bill would allow for robo-calls to consumers' cell phones without their explicit consent," Madigan said. "It would open up the floodgates to telemarketers and debt collectors to call at all hours of the day, and prevent my office and other state attorneys general from enforcing strong laws that have previously banned this practice of robo-calling."

Two separate ongoing court cases are also challenging Hoosiers' right to telephone privacy. Zoeller's office appealed to the Indiana Supreme Court to hear a recent lower court ruling that would allow automated calls from political candidates. challenged whether the state should be constitutionally permitted to restrict robo-calls to residents.

In addition, Patriotic Veterans Inc. challenged Indiana's Automatic Dialing Machine Statute. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ruled that the state's ban on robo-calls playing political messages cannot be enforced if the calls originate outside Indiana, but Zoeller's office is appealing the decision.

State attorneys general in Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina and North Dakota have also voiced opposition to the preemption.

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