The real purpose of H.R. 3035 is to open up everyone’s cell phones, land lines, and business phone numbers, without their consent, to a flood of commercial, marketing and debt collection calls (to not only the debtor but everyone else). The bill would effectively gut the TCPA, a widely popular statute that protects Americans from the proliferation of intrusive, nuisance calls from telemarketers and others whose use of technology “may be abusive or harassment.” In 1991 Congress found that unwanted automated calls were a “nuisance and an invasion of privacy, regardless of the type of call” and that banning such calls was “the only effective means of protecting telephone consumers from this nuisance and privacy invasion.”
Automated predictive dialers would be exempt from the TCPA, permitting repetitive “phantom” calls to cell phones, doctor’s offices, hospital rooms and pagers. Predictive dialers use a computer to call telephones based on predictions of when someone will answer and when a human caller will be available. They are the source of calls that begin with a long pause and of calls with no one on the other end (if the prediction of the human caller’s availability is wrong.) Since the purpose of predictive dialers is to get someone to answer, computers often call a number repeatedly throughout the day. The TCPA currently prohibits the use of automatic telephone dialing systems to make calls, with certain exceptions, to (1) any emergency telephone line (including 911, hospitals, medical offices, health care facilities, poison control centers, fire protection or law enforcement agencies), (2) guest or patient room of hospital, health care facility, elderly home, (3) pagers or (4) cell phones. H.R. 3035 would revise the definition of “automatic telephone dialing system” so that modern predictive dialers, which do not use random or sequential number generators, would be outside of the TCPA’s protections. Calls could even be made for solicitation purposes unless the telephone number is a residential one on the Do Not Call list.
Businesses could make prerecorded robo-calls to anyone’s personal or business cell phone for any commercial purpose that is not a solicitation, including debt collection, surveys, “how did you like your recent shopping experience,” and “we’ve enhanced our service” – even if you are on the Do-Not-Call list. TCPA currently prohibits robo-calls to cell phones unless the consumer has provided prior express consent. H.R. 3035 would add a new exception permitting robo-calls to cell phones for any commercial call that is not a solicitation. The possibilities are endless. The Do Not Call list protects people only from telemarketing calls, not these other calls. Debt collection calls would be made to the cell phones of friends, family, neighbors, employers, or strangers with similar names or numbers. Families struggling in the current economy will be hounded on their cell phones, even if they have a landline that the collector could call, and even if the call uses up precious cell phone minutes or incurs per-minute charges for those with prepay phones. Commercial calls for debt collection or other commercial purposes could be made even if the consumer never gave out his or her cell phone number—the business could call if it found the consumer’s cell phone number on Google or by purchasing a list from entities that collect that information.
Read more: http://www.nclc.org/images/pdf/legislation/opposition-letter-hr-3035.pdf