|JEFFERSON CITY – Missourians apparently are one step closer to being able to add their cell phone numbers and fax numbers to the state’s No-Call List based on legislation sponsored by Senator Kevin Engler (R-Farmington). The bill also attempts to protect those on the No-Call List from automated political phone calls that are popular during election cycles. The Missouri Senate gave first round approval to Senate Bill 49 et al. Engler said the bill’s aim is to end unsolicited advertising that can actually cost the recipients money.
“On cell phones, you have to pay if you receive a call, and on faxes you have to pay for paper, ink and other costs of receiving a fax,” Engler said. “Missourians should no longer have to foot the cost for these unsolicited ads.”
The bill covers phone calls and text messages to cell phones used for personal purposes as well as residential faxes. Engler said many people receive a stack of faxed advertisements each day sent overnight.
The measure also prohibits automated political phone calls to anyone who is registered on the No-Call List. For Missourians not on the list, it requires “robo-calls” to include a “paid for by” statement as part of the call.
“Too many people are bothered by these calls and there needs to be an option to opt out from getting them,” he said. “Plus, Missourians have a right to know who is paying for these calls because it’s not always clear.”
Certain automated calls that are exempt in the puliminary bill include: calls (1) a person has given permission to receive, (2) relating to a recent or current business or personal relationship, (3) preceded by a live person obtaining consent to play the automated message, (4) from a public safety agency or other entity notifying a person of an emergency and (5) from a telecommunications compay or its directory publisher affiliates made solely to verify the delivery of products or services provided at no charge to the individual called. [Number three seems like a glaring loophole that caters to politcal advertisers and number five seems to cater to the telecom PAC.]
The bill provides a civil penalty up to $5,000 per violation. [Civil penalty? Just who must foot the legal cost for recovering a negligible amount of damages? And violations of the rules regarding political-related solicitations--there are some further caveats--MAY be referred to the Missouri Ethics Commission. Whoop-de-do.]
Senate President Pro Tem Michael R. Gibbons, R-Kirkwood, co-sponsored the bill. He said more than 600 consumers complained about these types of calls leading up to the November 2006 elections.
The bill must receive a second round of approval before moving to the House.
The majority of this article came from Comsec at senate.mo.gov.