Friday, February 18, 2005

Indianapolis Star on battle to save Do Not Call

The Indianapolis Star today has a story on the counterattack by the Attorney General against the bankers' efforts to pre-empt Indiana's Do Not Call law with the weaker federal one.

It's the Indiana attorney general versus the Consumer Bankers Association for the ears of Hoosiers -- or so the debate went Thursday.

Attorney General Steve Carter wants the banks to back off from an attempt to pre-empt the Indiana do-not-call law with a federal law. The bankers say the federal law also will protect consumers, and it's easier for the banks to deal with a single federal law than several state laws.

"The banks want to call at will, even those people who say they don't want those calls," Carter said Thursday at the Statehouse.

"We're saying that the federal law is a strong consumer protection law that was intended to be the law of the land," replied Fritz M. Elmendorf, vice president of communications for the bankers association.

The decision will come from the Federal Communications Commission, which has been asked by the bankers to decide that federal law supersedes the Indiana law and should replace it.

Since 2001, Indiana has had a telephone privacy law that prevents telemarketers from calling most people who have registered on a statewide "do not call" list. Carter says around 3 million people are on the list.

A federal version of the no-call list, created by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, began in 2003, but the Indiana law remains in effect.

Carter said the Indiana law more effectively deters telemarketers than the federal regulation, claiming the federal rules would let banks call people at home in cases where the Indiana law would stop those calls.

"We didn't drive anybody out of business over the last three years, but we created a lot of peace and quiet for people's homes," he said.

Carter is campaigning for the banks to drop their appeal and is advertising in newspapers and on television, urging consumers to call the banks. The effort includes a Web site:

Earlier this week, the attorney general called Indiana banks and asked them to drop the FCC appeal. Old National Bank of Evansville agreed with Carter, and the attorney general said a second bank -- which he would not identify -- might have second thoughts.
Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Since the Star story went to press, Union Federal has responded positively to the Attorney General's request and is opposing the CBA petition to override Indiana's Do Not Call law with the weaker federal one.