Thursday, November 15, 2007

Outlaw Political Robo Calls?

Yes, it’s yet another attack on free speech.

From the Wisconsin Radio Network:
There’s another push to outlaw robocalls in our state.

The automated computer-generated calls are more common in political campaigns, because technology allows the robocalls to be made pretty inexpensively. State Representative Spencer Black (D-Madison) points to an incident involving robocalls in last week’s election in New York.

“In New York people were awakened at 2am in the morning because a computer was misprogrammed. Obviously if these calls were made by a person as my bill would require, that person would not be calling at 2am, but a computer can make mistakes.”

The Madison Democrat says the deceptive and harassing use of robocalls could happen in Wisconsin, that’s why he says lawmakers need to pass legislation (AB-311, SB-172) banning such calls before next year’s election. Black says in some areas of active elections, people get as many as 30 intrusive robocalls a day ... annoying taxpayers and even blocking important personal calls.

“We had one incident in Wisconsin where a person up in Appleton missed his own brother’s funeral because there were so many calls on his answering machine he did not receive calls informing him of the death of his brother and the date of the funeral, so he missed his own brother’s funeral.”

Black says candidates have the right to get their message out, but taxpayers have the right to personal privacy. Black’s measure was unanimously approved in a senate committee, but is not yet scheduled for a vote in the full senate
It’s not yet time to man the gunboats, since this bill probably has little chance to pass. According to a blog following the issue:
The NPDNC Registry doubts that this bill will pass the legislature. Instead, it will simply languish in committee long enough for some politicians to say that they are trying to do something to help the voter.

In reality, they had no intent to pass the legislation in the first place.
We certainly hope so.

Wisconsin Right to Life calls these bills “The Politicians Protection Act (SB 77),” and “The Welfare for Politicians Act (SB 171).”

But given the willingness of “reformers” to stifle speech, we wouldn’t write this off entirely.

Perhaps Spencer Black and the other legislators who approved this in committee really don’t intend for it to pass, and it’s merely an example of “position taking” to placate disgruntled voters.

If so, it’s to be lamented that voters are willing to credit attempts to stifle free speech, and that legislators are so cynical as to pander to them.

If they want to actually pass this legislation, it’s even worse.

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Anonymous Brian said...

Will this be sort of like OSD banning political student groups from soliciting in the dorms? The ban is on the books but the College Democrats do it every eleciton and the Bureaucrats look the other way?

8:22 AM  
Blogger Dad29 said...

Oh, I don't know...

I'd be perfectly happy with legislation that would extend the "do not call" list to cover political and political-action calls.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Shaun said...

Actually robo calls are a real invasion of privacy. Our members are getting an average of 10 - 15 calls A DAY during election season.

Can you imagine getting that many robo calls? (this doesn't count volunteer calls, emails, direct mail, canvassing, etc).

The National Political Do Not Contact Registry is working to allow voters to take back their privacy and tell politicians to stop calling them at home.


Shaun Dakin
CEO and Founder

9:02 PM  

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