Thursday, March 24, 2005

INtake on saving Do Not Call

The Indianapolis-area publication INtake has a column on Do Not Call:

A bad call for Indiana residents
Federal law could override, dilute state's successful do-not-call list.
By James W. Burnes

On occasion, local lawmakers get it done right. When it comes to the Indiana do-not-call list, that's especially true, as Attorney General Steve Carter, the law's most vocal advocate, will gladly remind you.

The Indiana law was established in 2001, where to date more than 1.5 million households have registered for protection.

It limits those who can call you on your home phone to: businesses with whom you have an existing debt or contract, charities and newspapers when they use their own employees or volunteers to call, and licensed real estate and insurance agents.

The law has been a huge success, and many Hoosiers have been able to enjoy a quiet evening at home.

Unfortunately, the federal do-not-call list, passed in fall 2003, is not as restrictive.

It allows any business that you've had a transaction with during the past 18 months or those whom you've contacted in the past three months, charities and those annoying telephone surveyors, to contact you.

Now, banks are lobbying the Federal Communications Commission, which oversees the federal law, to allow them to contact former customers.

Ultimately, it would mean that any business could contact any person who has been a former client.

In addition to the effort to further dilute the federal law, the banks are lobbying the FCC to allow federal law to override state do-not-call lists, overruling the state's ability to control telemarketing.

The lobbying effort should outrage Hoosiers who will find their current, strong telemarketing law weakened significantly with an ineffective federal law.

Indiana Senators Evan Bayh and Dick Lugar are two movers and shakers actively fighting the ruling.

In a joint letter sent March 14 to the chairman of the FCC, the senators expressed their opposition to the proposal. Likewise, Indiana's members of the House of Representatives also have sent a joint letter.

Indiana's congressional leaders are fighting for Hoosiers' rights, but they need and deserve our help to stop this lobbying effort.

If we don't help, we'll have more than our rights removed -- we'll have to start answering those damn calls again.