Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Indiana's U.S. senators defend Do Not Call

Both of Indiana's U.S. senators have weighed in against the CBA's efforts to pre-empt Indiana's Do Not Call law. The South Bend Tribune is on the story:

U.S. Sens. Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh are urging the Federal Communications Commission to protect Indiana's Do-Not-Call law from attempts to weaken it.

Although they are from different parties -- Lugar is a Republican and Bayh a Democrat -- the two lawmakers from Indiana have a long history of working together.

They teamed up again Monday to send a letter to FCC Chairman Michael Powell in which they expressed their opposition to a petition filed with the communications agency by the Consumer Bankers Association.

The CBA is asking the FCC to pre-empt Indiana's laws, the letter said, "to the extent that they prohibit telemarketing calls to persons and entities with which the caller has an established business relationship."

What that means, according to an earlier statement by Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter, is that if the CBA petition is granted, Indiana's law would be replaced by the less restrictive federal do-not-call law.

Carter, who visited South Bend last month in support of his campaign against the CBA petition, said the proposed change would open the door for any business, not just banks, to start calling again.

"Hoosiers have demonstrated overwhelming support for our state's 'Do-Not-Call' law and have a right to the protection it offers," Bayh said in a statement. "Federal law should not be used to water down our consumer rights for the benefit of telemarketers."

The key phrase in the CBA petition is "established business relationship."

According to Lugar, under federal rules established in 2003, such a relationship is renewed and calls can be made for 18 months after routine transactions such as using a credit card or paying a bill.

Indiana's law provides greater privacy protections, Lugar said, by allowing consumers to choose which businesses are permitted to solicit them by phone.

According to the letter, Hoosiers would not be alone should the petition be granted as the pre-emption of state law would have a similar impact on a number of other states which currently have similar protections.

"Each day, I hear from more and more Hoosiers concerned with this attempt to weaken our 'Do-Not-Call' law," said Bayh. "Senator Lugar and I will continue to urge the FCC to protect Hoosiers from unwanted calls."