Feinstein moves to limit robocalls

specter.jpgU.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.

feinstein.jpg“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.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • This is a good step forward.

    I’m scheduled to testify at a hearing that she’ll be having in the near future.

    These calls are an epidemic and are invading the privacy of All American Voters.

    Our members are taking a stand and saying enough is enough at the National Political Do Not Contact Registry at StopPoliticalCalls.org.

    Here is a quote from a member this morning:

    “I find it very frustrating… I tend to get calls at the WORST time. I have a one year old daughter, and it NEVER fails that the phone will ring when I put her down for a nap or for bed. Also my vote is PRIVATE… so who do you think you are calling with a survey to find out who I am voting for!!! Stop calling me.”


    Shaun Dakin
    CEO and Founder

  • Free Speech

    Ever heard of the First Amendment, DiFi? No court would uphold anything that limits political speech