TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Pre-Recorded Phone Should be Illegal

Re: Pre-Recorded Phone Should be Illegal

Lisa Hancock (
3 Nov 2004 08:06:53 -0800

BobGoudreau@withheld on request wrote:

> I hope that you didn't literally mean "pre-recorded phone calls, of
> any kind", since there are plenty of cases where people actually WANT
> to receive such calls and make arrangements to do so.
> Perhaps you actually meant "UNSOLICITED pre-recorded phone calls,
> of any kind". Even then (and leaving aside the constitutional issues of
> political speech raised by campaign calls) it's not completely black
> and white, since I can envision various emergency scenarios (storm
> evacuation, water contamination, armed-and-dangerous suspect at large,
> etc) where public safety might be aided via mass robo-calls to the
> affected areas.

In the case of a public safety emergency -- normally a very rare
occurence -- I could see the use of pre-recorded announcements.
However, these should not replace traditional sirens or radio

As to other pre-recorded calls, I suppose in your example -- school
messages that one has explicitly accepted -- it would be tolerable.
But even this is questionable.

When this issue came up before, Sears Dept Stores said they use
pre-recorded announcements to notify customers of up-coming
deliveries. That sounds ok, but there are many problems with that
(esp from my experience getting something from Sears). First,
sometimes the delivery time is not good and you need to tell a real
person that. Second, answering machines could garble a pre-recorded
message or skip it altogether -- the calling machine simply has no
idea if it's talking to off-hook but dead air.

As to constitutional issues, I don't see how that applies at all.

If you put a sign up on your front gate advising visitors to KEEP OUT
and that you will not tolerate being disturbed, anyone who disregards
that sign is subject to arrest for trespassing and harassment. They
may leave a note at your gate but may not enter your property, even
for political reasons.

There is no difference between such a "keep-out" sign and a
do-not-call phone list.

There is also such a thing as harassment and existing laws that
restrict political telephone soliciting. If it was constitutionally
protected, than there'd be no restrictions on nursing home and cell
phone calls and late hour calls. Free speech does not include

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