Robocalls Instigate a Cellphone Fight – Randall Stross (NYT)
November 12, 2011
“Almost everyone with a landline has felt the annoyance of picking up the phone and realizing that a call is not from a friend or a family member but rather is a prerecorded message delivered by a software-robot. … The American Bankers Association, the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals and other trade groups want to prevent the F.C.C. from strengthening the consent requirement. They are backing a bill in the House, H.R. 3035, that they say would clarify issues of consent surrounding automated calls. The lobbyists try to argue that the protections extended to cellphones in 1991 were necessary only because the per-minute cost of receiving calls was high. Those costs have fallen greatly since then — so, they argue, there is no need to continue to treat cellphones differently. It’s not quite that simple, however. For someone with a flat-rate wireless plan, receiving an unwanted robocall does not incur a cost measured by the minute. But as more consumers use their phones less for actual calls and opt for prepaid plans, there’s a visible cost for every minute of use. Separately, there is the harder-to-calculate cost of having one’s personal space invaded by a robocaller that one never wished to summon. The bill is opposed by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the Consumer Federation of America, Americans for Financial Reform, Consumer Watchdog, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and other consumer advocates. Click here for more.