Bill Introduced To Let Robots Call Your Cellphone

Since ’91, it’s been illegal for telemarketers to use autodialers and other robot-like devices to call your cellphone. Last week, a bill was introduced to change that. While in the past email hoaxes have gone around saying that your cellphone could be opened up to telemarketers, HR 3035 seeks to let businesses contact your cellphone “for informational purposes.”

Here is the text of the bill:

“HR 3035 IH
112th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 3035
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to permit informational calls to mobile telephone numbers, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 22, 2011
Mr. TERRY (for himself and Mr. TOWNS) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
A BILL
To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to permit informational calls to mobile telephone numbers, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ‘Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011′.
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
(a) In General- Section 227(a) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 227(a)) is amended–
(1) by amending paragraph (1) to read as follows:
‘(1) The term ‘automatic telephone dialing system’ means equipment which uses a random or sequential number generator to produce telephone numbers to be called and to dial such numbers.';
(2) in paragraph (2)–
(A) by striking ‘subsection (b)(1)(C)(i)’ and inserting ‘paragraph (3) and subsection (b)(1)(C)(i)';
(B) in subparagraph (A), by striking ‘; and’ and inserting a semicolon;
(C) in subparagraph (B), by striking ‘paragraph (2)(G)).’ and inserting ‘subsection (b)(2)(G); and'; and
(D) by adding at the end the following:
‘(C) this paragraph shall not apply for purposes of determining whether an established business relationship exists for purposes of prior express consent to a call that is a telephone solicitation.';
(3) by redesignating paragraphs (3) through (5) as paragraphs (4) through (6), respectively; and
(4) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following:
‘(3) The term ‘prior express consent’ means the oral or written approval of a person–
‘(A) for the initiation of a telephone call to such person by or on behalf of an entity with which such person has an established business relationship; and
‘(B) that is provided when such person purchases a good or service or at any other point during such relationship.
A person who provides a telephone number as a means of contact evidences consent under this paragraph.’.
(b) Conforming Amendment- Section 227(c)(1)(D) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 227(c)(1)(D)) is amended by striking ‘subsection (a)(3)’ and inserting ‘subsection (a)(5)’.
SEC. 3. INFORMATIONAL CALLS TO MOBILE TELEPHONE NUMBERS.
(a) In General- Section 227(b)(1)(A) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)(A)) is amended to read as follows:
‘(A) to make any call (other than a call made for emergency purposes or made with the prior express consent of the called party) using any automatic telephone dialing system or an artificial or prerecorded voice–
‘(i) to any emergency telephone line (including any ‘911’ line and any emergency line of a hospital, medical physician or service office, health care facility, poison control center, or fire protection or law enforcement agency);
‘(ii) to the telephone line of any guest room or patient room of a hospital, health care facility, elderly home, or similar establishment;
‘(iii) to any telephone number assigned to a paging service; or
‘(iv) to any telephone number assigned to a cellular telephone service, specialized mobile radio service, or other radio common carrier service, or any service for which the called party is charged for the call, unless the call is made for a commercial purpose that does not constitute a telephone solicitation;’.
(b) Conforming Amendment- Section 227(b)(2)(C) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 227(b)(2)(C)) is amended by striking ‘paragraph (1)(A)(iii)’ and inserting ‘paragraph (1)(A)(iv)’.
(c) Technical Correction- Section 227(b)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 227(b)(1)) is amended by striking ‘It shall’ and all that follows through ‘United States–‘ and inserting the following: ‘It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or any person outside the United States if the recipient is within the United States–‘.
SEC. 4. EFFECT ON STATE LAW.
Section 227(f)(1) of the Communications Act of 1934 (47 U.S.C. 227(f)(1)) is amended to read as follows:
‘(1) IN GENERAL- No requirement or prohibition may be imposed under the laws of any State with respect to any subject matter regulated under this section, except for telephone solicitations.’.”

Here is a letter written by various banking associations supporting the bill:

“September 23, 2011

The Honorable Fred Upton
Chairman Ranking Minority Member
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Henry Waxman
House Committee on Energy and Commerce House Committee on Energy and Commerce
2322A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Upton and Ranking Minority Member Waxman:

We the undersigned write to express our strong support for H.R. 3035, the Mobile
Informational Call Act of 2011. This legislation will modernize the Telephone Consumer
Protection Act (TCPA) by enacting limited, common-sense revisions to facilitate the delivery of time-sensitive consumer information to mobile devices, while continuing to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls.

Businesses increasingly rely on advanced communications technologies to convey timely
and important information to consumers. These calls notify consumers about threats such as data breaches and fraud alerts, provide timely notice of flight and service appointment cancellations and drug recalls, and protect consumers against the adverse consequences of failure to make timely payments on an account.

Unfortunately, the TCPA restricts informational calls that utilize assistive technologies to mobile devices even though the law permits such calls to be made to wireline phones. As a result, the approximately 40% of American consumers who identify their mobile device as their primary or exclusive means of communication do not receive many of these calls.

This restriction imposes unwarranted costs and inconveniences on consumers, businesses, and the economy as a whole. When enacted in 1991, Congress intended this restriction to protect consumers against the then-daunting per-minute costs and privacy concerns associated with unsolicited incoming calls from telemarketers. But this restriction applies equally to informational calls. In addition, most wireless consumers are now covered by flat-rate plans, and even for those who are not, technological advances and increased competition have greatly reduced per-minute charges.

A strong consumer-protection environment depends on appropriate communication
between businesses and their customers. As consumers increasingly rely on wireless phones as their primary, or even sole, means of communication, the TCPA’s outdated restriction on the use of assistive technologies in contacting wireless consumers for non-telemarketing purposes is now doing far more harm than good for the consumers such restriction was intended to protect.

For these reasons, we strongly support H.R. 3035. This bill will modernize the TCPA by:

* Exempting informational calls from the restriction on auto-dialer and artificial/prerecorded voice calls to wireless numbers;
* Clarifying the “prior express consent” requirement to ensure that the TCPA facilitates communications between consumers and the businesses with which they choose to interact; and
* Excluding from the restriction equipment that merely stores pre-determined numbers or that has latent (but unused) capacity to generate random or sequential numbers.

In addition, H.R. 3035 will continue the prohibition against the use of assistive technologies to call wireless numbers for telemarketing purposes. We commend Representatives Terry and Towns for introducing this legislation.

Congress should act now to modernize the TCPA’s treatment of informational calls to
consumers, while preserving its original intent to protect wireless consumers from unwanted telemarketing calls. We urge the Energy and Commerce Committee to appprove [sic] this legislation as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

American Bankers Association
ACA International
Air Transport Association
Consumer Bankers Association
Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations
Edison Electric Institute
Education Finance Council
Financial Services Roundtable
Housing Policy Council
Mortgage Bankers Association
National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
National Council of Higher Education Loan Program
Student Loan Servicing Alliance
Student Loan Servicing Alliance Private Loan Committee
The Clearing House
U.S. Chamber of Commerce”

If that’s the list of supporters, you can be pretty sure it sucks for you.