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Madigan Warns of Robocalls to Cellphones




    The possibility that robocalls could soon be headed to cell phones has consumer advocates and an increasing number of attorneys general worried about consumers' wallets and privacy. (Published Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011)

    For years, cellphone-only households have enjoyed a sense of quiet not shared by those who have landlines.

    That could change if some leaders in Washington, D.C. have their way, and that possibility has consumer advocates and an increasing number of attorneys general, including Illinois' Lisa Madigan, worried about consumers' wallets and privacy.

    A bill, introduced last month and backed by debt collectors, would amend the Communications Act of 1934 to permit "informational" robocalls to cell phones.

    "It would open the floodgates to telemarketers and debt collectors to call at all hours of the day," Attorney General Madigan said Wednesday at a news conference calling attention to House Resolution 3035.

    Madigan said she was especially concerned about those consumers who don't have unlimited-minutes packages on their cell phones.

    "Those consumers would essentially have to use their minutes, their money, to be inundated with calls from not just debt collectors but any business, even if [the consumer has] not given them express consent to call their phone," said Madigan.

    Also appearing at Wednesday's press event was Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who testified Friday against the bill at a House subcommittee meeting in Washington, D.C.

    "What we're talking about is not a limitation on speech. This is the manner in which and the time and place of the speech," said Zoeller. "Calling me on my cellphone with a robocall, that's not a restriction of free speech. That's a protection of personal privacy."