U.S. Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., today introduced a bill to regulate robocalls, those rather annoying automated telephone calls which clog voters’ voice mail bins before every election.
Concerns have been raised about abuses of this technology, including calls being received late into the night; callers receiving 10, 20 or even 30 calls a night; and callers using misleading information.
The bill would:
· Ban calls to any person between 9 a.m. and 8 a.m;
· Ban more than two calls per organization to the same telephone number per day;
· Require disclosure at the call’s start of the identity of the group making the call;
· Require the caller to identify the call as pre-recorded;
· Ban the calling organization from blocking their “caller identification” number;
· Empower the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to file civil fines against violators; and
· Let individuals to sue to stop the abusive calls.
These prohibitions wouldn’t apply to live volunteer, “in person” phone banks. The bill would be effective 30 days prior to a primary and 60 days prior to a general election.
“During this primary season, we have heard stories about people being called over and over again, at all hours of the day and night. I believe we need sensible guidelines in place,” Feinstein said in a news release. “Something must be done about the worst of these calls. The bill that we have introduced today does not ban robocalls. It merely provides a reasonable framework. It’s a sensible solution that will protect American families from being inundated by calls through the day and night.”
Commercial calls are already limited by the Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call” list, with millions of individuals subscribing, but political calls were specifically exempted from that list.