Robocalls to cell phones?

Written by on November 23, 2011 in Baltimore Voices - 1 Comment

One of the beauties, to me, of having a cell phone is that I can decide who gets the number, not Ma Bell. I can give the number to friends and associates, and the only junk calls I get are from those automated thingies that dial at random. I am totally off the phone book.

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Speaking of which, have you noticed how small the telephone directory is these days? More and more of us are opting out of landlines and the phone book. Privacy is a wonderful thing.

The United States Congress is about to end all that. There is a bill, HR3035, in the House of Representatives that will allow candidates, PACs, parties and others to send political robocalls to your cell phone—and you wouldn’t be able to opt out, because political speech is protected under the First Amendment.

The bill is called the “Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011.” My eye.

The general “information” that gets distributed via political robocall is below preschool standards. Basically, it goes like this.

From Democrats: Candidate A is a reactionary poopypants because he’s a Republican.

From Republicans: Candidate B is a socialist poopypants because he’s a Democrat.

That’s it! That’s political speech protected under the First Amendment.

Do we really need our time, and our mobile minutes, taken up with this nonsense?

At least we can do something about the time–like most people, the moment I sense a robocall on the other end of the line, I hang up. Time saved.

But minutes? Every time some politico decides to call us during a hot race, it costs us minutes.

Perhaps we should call the act “The Mobile Maximizing Telcom Profit Act of 2011.”

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry, a six-term Republican from Nebraska. He’s a pretty middle-of-the-road Republican, according to, a nonpartisan reporting website. He’s conservative, but he’s not sitting on the most distant pinfeathers of the right wing.
The bill was referred to Terry’s own committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and has had a hearing in subcommittee. The next vote on this bill will be on the floor of the House of Representatives.

The bill has received strong support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Banking Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Mortgage Bankers Association. Last I checked none of these groups was particularly interested in consumer rights or privacy.
You can sign an online petition at

But online petitions are not worth the paper they’re not written on.

The best way to get your representative’s attention is to write him.

For most of us in South and East Baltimore, our rep in Congress is John Sarbanes (D-Third). You can find his website at; click “Send Me an E-Mail” on the left-hand sidebar under Sarbanes’ portrait.

Or you can call his Towson office, 410-832-8890. Or if your mobile plan includes free long distance, you can call the DC office at 202-225-4016.

If Elijah Cummings (D-Seventh) is your rep, go to and click “Contact Me” on the right-hand side of the bright red menu bar. Or you can call his Baltimore office at 410-685-9199, or the DC office at 202-225-4741.

by Jacqueline Watts

One Comment on "Robocalls to cell phones?"

  1. Shaun Dakin November 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm · Reply


    Thanks for writing about this. In my capacity as the founder of (The National Political Do Not Contact Registry) I’ve been working with the consumer advocates leading the charge against the bill.

    I set up that petition you link to above on !

    I’ve also just launched a new company that allows voters to send their own robocalls to politicians. In this particular case we created a way for voters to, with one call, send a robocall to the supporters of HR 3035.

    Here is the link to that >


    Shaun Dakin
    CEO and Founder – the National Political Do Not Contact Registry
    CEO and Co Founder –

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