Mar 112010
 
 March 11, 2010  Breaches, Featured News

By making unsolicited calls asking to play prerecorded messages to Hoosiers, a national political organization is flouting the spirit of Indiana’s telephone privacy laws and is the first to violate the recently-signed treaty between the three state political party leaders, Indiana Attorney Greg Zoeller said today.

“I’m sorry to report that the National Republican Congressional Committee is the first to intentionally violate the treaty and show a lack of respect for the privacy of Hoosiers by blitzing them with unwanted political calls,” said Zoeller, a Republican. “This national group fails to appreciate what the three political parties in Indiana readily embraced: that unsolicited and unwanted calls on any subject are an annoying and ultimately counterproductive tactic that Hoosiers neither need nor want.”

Zoeller noted that the Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday contacted the NRCC, notified the national organization of the treaty and requested they respect Hoosiers’ privacy and discontinue their current phone campaign in Indiana. They declined.

On January 5, the leaders of the Indiana political parties – Republican State Chairman Murray Clark, Democratic State Chairman Dan Parker and Libertarian State Chairman Sam Goldstein – signed the Treaty of 2010 that the Attorney General negotiated. Although not legally binding, the treaty is a pledge that the party chairmen disavow robo-calls this year and urge their candidates to refrain from using them.

“Hoosiers have said time and again that they enjoy their telephone privacy and don’t want to be interrupted by the annoying ring of unwanted telephone calls, and that the use of prerecorded messages adds insult to injury,” Zoeller said. “My office has explained to the NRCC that their nuisance calls into Indiana violate the intent and spirit of the state’s telephone privacy laws. They certainly breach the Treaty of 2010 that all three state political parties signed January 5. My commitment was to speak out against those who choose to show disrespect for Hoosiers’ privacy and to make it clear I will do what I can to increase the costs for those who decide the benefits outweigh the costs.”

According to published reports, the NRCC this month initiated automated calls to citizens in three congressional districts in Indiana. The Attorney General’s Telephone Privacy Division has already fielded complaints about the NRCC calls.

Indiana’s Auto Dialer law prohibits the use of technology that automatically dials residential phone numbers and plays prerecorded messages. The law does not prohibit robo-call messages if a live operator places the call and obtains the consumer’s permission first before playing the prerecorded message. Obtaining such permission as an opt-in choice is allowed and encouraged as respectful of an individual’s right to privacy. Otherwise, the calls are illegal in Indiana and can result in the Attorney General filing a lawsuit seeking civil penalties against those responsible. The penalty is up to $5,000 per violation.

The Attorney General’s Office currently has two lawsuits ongoing against outside political groups that illegally used Auto Dialer machines to blast Hoosier consumers with robo-calls in 2006.

“This national group and anyone considering similar activities should be on notice that the tactic of tiptoeing right up to the line of illegality in pursuit of short-term gain carries a public penalty as a violation of the Treaty of 2010,” Zoeller said.

Source: Attorney General Zoeller

Photo of Rep. Pete Sessions, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee , by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble). Released under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License and the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License

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