Robo-calls have to go

Now that the primary election is over, it’s time to talk about robo-calls.

Robo-calls are made by many political parties in the United States, including but not limited to both the Republican and Democratic parties as well as unaffiliated campaigns, 527 oganizations, unions, and individual citizens. 

Political robo-calls are currently exempt from the United States National Do Not Call Registry. But that does not make any common sense.

The Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations prohibit anyone (including charities, politicians and political parties) from making robocalls to cell phone numbers without the recipients’ prior consent. That’s nice.

The FCC, however, permits non-commercial robo-calls to most residential (non-cellular) telephone lines – now referred to as land lines. That doesn’t make any common sense.

The federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) reportedly regulates automated calls, but not very much.

All robo-calls, irrespective of whether they are political in nature, must do two things to be considered legal. 

First, federal law requires all telephone calls using pre-recorded messages to identify who is initiating the calls.

Secondly, all telephone calls using pre-recorded messages must include a telephone number or address whereby the initiator can be reached.

I have never listened to an entire robo-call, so I can’t tell you whether the ones I’m receiving are “legal.’’

About 23 states have laws that regulate or prohibit political robo-calls. Indiana and North Dakota prohibit automated political calls.

In New Hampshire, political robo-calls are allowed, except when the recipient is in the National Do Not Call Registry.

Many states require the disclosure of who paid for the call, often requiring such notice be recorded in the candidate’s own voice.

The patch-work of state laws regulating political robo-calls has created problems for national campaigns, but who cares about that?

At the 2018 Kansas Legislature, House Bill 2273 was passed almost unanimously but died in the Senate after opposition was voiced by Westar and AT&T.

Dennis “Boog’’ Highberger, state representative for the 46th District in Douglas County, who authored HB 2273, said the bill would not stop all robo-calls in the state but would give the Attorney General the authority to pursue the worst offenders.

All robo-calls should be outlawed, in my opinion. History will record that the end of land line was not caused by cell phones, but by robo-calls. 

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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