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FTC Rules Outlawing Robocalls Go Into Effect Next Week 277

coondoggie writes "Nearly a year after announcing the plan, new Federal Trade Commission rules prohibiting most robocalls are set to take effect Tuesday, Sept. 1. With the rules, prerecorded commercial telemarketing robocalls will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls. Hopefully the rules will go a long way to helping consumers eat dinner in peace without being interrupted by amazingly annoying telemarketer blather or in this case prerecorded blather. The requirement is part of amendments to the agency's Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) that were announced a year ago. After September 1, sellers and telemarketers who transmit prerecorded messages to consumers who have not agreed in writing to accept such messages will face penalties of up to $16,000 per call."
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FTC Rules Outlawing Robocalls Go Into Effect Next Week

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  • by patmandu ( 247443 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:36PM (#29226323)

    ...or did they make sure to keep that loophole in there for themselves again...

    • by Evan Charlton ( 1498823 ) <slash@evan c h> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:39PM (#29226351) Homepage
      No, they left that in. FTFA:

      However for those who have called on the FTC to help eliminate the other phone scourge - political robocalls - the new rules will not help. Calls from political campaigns are considered protected speech the FTC said. Ultimately consumers may get some help from state legislatures as many are regulating or looking to pass laws for more control over automated or robocall computer-generated phone-calling campaigns. One group, the National Political Do Not Contact Registry [] is campaigning to outlaw political robocalling altogether.

      • by msimm ( 580077 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:19PM (#29226643) Homepage
        Calls from political campaigns are considered protected speech

        But who knew we'd already granted computers rights?!!
        • What. (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Valdrax ( 32670 )

          But who knew we'd already granted computers rights?!!

          Yeah. Because nothing that anyone says using a machine -- say to aid in disseminating their thoughts to many more people than they could talk to in person -- is actual protected speech!

          Now report to the reeducation center, citizen.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sorak ( 246725 )

          Calls from political campaigns are considered protected speech

          But who knew we'd already granted computers rights?!!

          As much as I hate robocalls, I think a prerecorded message is analogous to either a bullhorn or a prerecorded television ad. So, if "vote for me" is protected when a human says it, then it should be when he records it and transmits it electronically.

          Part of me is smirking at the idea of some police officer telling Steven Hawking "You have the right to free speech, but that voice thingy you use doesn't"

          • by bartwol ( 117819 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:26PM (#29232283)

            I think a prerecorded message is analogous to either a bullhorn or a prerecorded television ad.

            Neither bullhorn nor TV ad are allowed to enter into my home without my consent. It is practical for me to leave off (or to not have) a TV. But a phone provides essential services (including emergency services) that cannot function if it is turned off. The bullhorn, actually, can be annoying by coming through my window, but in fact, the state has retained latitude to regulate that problem through noise control regulations and requirements of permit for public demonstration.

            The allowance of political calls (under the guise of free speech) simply reflects legislative selfishness...a willingness to enforce just behavior upon all but themselves. It reflects the self-serving, less-than-high ethics that characterizes all but the fewest of politicians. They rationalize it away under a Greater Good theory, in this case some abstract virtue of greater public participation in politics. But that's just a cover fib, their real motive being to avail themselves of political advantage through any and all legal means. If you want to see how much they care about public participation, check their records on trying to help people of opposing parties to participate in politics.

      • by harmonise ( 1484057 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:29AM (#29227323)

        In a election last year for a state representative, I voted against someone because they robocalled me. Thankfully, they lost the election. I wrote to them after the fact and told them why I voted for their opponent.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Your attitude just encourages joe-jobbing though. I think there was some of that in this last election, with robocallers calling people 10 times in a night, claiming to be for Obama.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:40PM (#29226357)

      They left the loophole open. "Call from political candidates are considered protected speech". Really, what did you expect?

      • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:48PM (#29226769)

        They left the loophole open. "Call from political candidates are considered protected speech". Really, what did you expect?

        system is broken. time for overhaul.

        free speech is when I ask you a question and you are allowed to answer and not fear for your life.

        free speech is NOT the right to call me and force some stupid idea down my throat.

        there IS a difference and its not subtle, either.

        in no reasoning person's mind could a robocall, or ANY kind of political call, be called 'protected'.

        if that's protected, I should be able to call a judge on his personal phone line and complain about his judgements. call my congresscritters on their personal lines and complain and 'sell' them on my way of doing things.

        they want access to us? give us parity and we'll talk. so to speak.

        no? not going to work that way?

        time to redo the system. maybe from scratch, if that's what it takes.

        • by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) * on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:25AM (#29226947)

          Don't be embarrassed for not getting politics shoved down your throat. You can hang up on a robot, and they wouldn't even know.

          I think this is the wrong way to go about this. They should require every line used for marketing calls to show up on caller ID as "Marketing", and every call for political reasons to show up as "Political". Then people don't have to answer at all. You can add in a registry to keep people from calling, or you can require phone companies to block numbers with that name on the ID to a given number if you really want. The phone company idea would be my preference, as it's really easy to block numbers on our AT&T wireless lines on the net, and there should be no reason you can't do it on a land line just as easily.

          • by ubercam ( 1025540 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @10:47AM (#29230889)

            The only problem with "just hanging up on them" is when the robocaller ties up your line for the duration of its message, whether you've hung up or not.

            I got one from the NDP during the last Canadian election. I picked up the phone and it said "Hi, this is Jack Layton and I need your support..." blah blah blah, so I hung up on it right away. I picked up the phone about a minute later to make a call and it was still going on and on. I tried dialling random numbers on the phone to make it shut up and it wouldn't work. I hung up and tried about a minute later and I got a dial tone.

            I recorded all the details about the call that I could and wrote the phone company and told them that this call from the NDP tied up my line and I'd like to file a complaint about it because I might have needed to dial 911 or something during that time and would have been unable to do so, never mind being unable to use the phone at all, which we pay for, not the NDP. Someone from the phone company got back to me fairly quickly asking me for a bit more information and then a technician called me and said that he had just made some changes to our line to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future. We haven't had a robocaller for a while now as far as I know. I don't know what he did exactly, but I'd like to know. Maybe someone familiar with the phone system could shed some light on it.

            I also added the IC SIT [] (disconnected/non-existant number tone) to the beginning of our answering machine message in the hopes that it would reduce the number of robocallers and telemarketers that phone during the day. I know quite a few of them are unfortunately ignoring it because too many people caught on to the trick.

            • by greed ( 112493 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @11:55AM (#29231885)

              They enabled "disconnect on hangup" on your line. If you have a burglar alarm installed that uses your phone line, the alarm company will arrange for the same feature.

              Traditionally, POTS lines aren't disconnected until both sides go on-hook. With disconnect on hangup, the line is disconnected when one side goes on-hook, though it may take up to 10 seconds.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Jay Clay ( 971209 )
          "if that's protected, I should be able to call a judge on his personal phone line and complain about his judgements. call my congresscritters on their personal lines and complain and 'sell' them on my way of doing things."

          Assuming you have the number, you can. There are ramifications if it's threatening or if they ask you to stop and you still do it - just like these other scenarios should - but there aren't any laws against it (AFAIK - someone may correct me on that).

          Now the reverse - do you think y
        • by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @08:07AM (#29229089) Homepage Journal
          > free speech is when I ask you a question and you
          > are allowed to answer and not fear for your life.

          Oh, it's a bit more than that. Free speech is when you can stand on on the sidewalk downtown and tell your political ideas to anyone who will listen, hand out pamphlets to anyone who will take them, hold rallies where five hundred like-minded people all get together in a public place...

          I am even willing to accept unsolicited political phonecalls, as long as the number you're calling is a publicly listed number and not listed in the DNC registry, and provided it's a human doing the calling.

          But machine autocalling with a pre-recorded message is something else. The objection here is NOT to what you are saying. The objection here is to the fact that you are wasting my time *only*, and not spending any of your own time to do so. It doesn't matter if your message is commercial or political, because we're fundamentally not talking about what you're allowed to *say*.

          And the do-not-call registry should apply to all unsolicited calls. Ordinarily a politician can knock on your door and, if you answer, ask if he can have a moment of your time to tell you about $issue. A salesman can do the same thing. But if you put a sign on your door asking them not to do so, they're supposed to respect that. The DNC registry serves the same purpose as that sign on the door.

          This is not a free speech issue. They can say whatever they want, in public. Nobody's going to arrest or penalize them for what they say. (Well, we might choose to vote for the other guy, but that goes with the territory when you run for public office.) It's not about speech. It's about privacy, and the right of the individual home-owner to choose who and what he allows into his home.
    • by dword ( 735428 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @01:44AM (#29227395)

      What about calling from another country? I'm from Europe, but I've heard that the telemarketers solved most of their "problems" by simply using call centers from other countries. They haven't done anything, except outlawing robocalls from US telemarketers to US residents. One country down, 202 [] to go.

  • The person I should call when my dinner is interrupted by another call? I bet their voicemail is slashdotted the first day.
  • Won't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RedMage ( 136286 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:43PM (#29226383) Homepage

    For the most annoying types (scams mostly) this won't matter any. There's already a "Do not call" mechanism that's ignored. The legitimate ones will obey, the rest will just continue on.
    Yes, it gives some teeth for when you actually catch them, but for the millions of us who have been getting the "Your credit rating will be affected!!!" calls lately, I doubt it will make any difference to our evening meals.

    • Re:Won't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

      by codeguy007 ( 179016 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:51PM (#29226419)

      They just call from another country to get around the no call lists anyway so you're right.

      • Re:Won't matter (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Cimexus ( 1355033 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:00AM (#29226831)

        What's really funny is that it goes both ways too.

        We have a Do Not Call register in Australia as well. You can sign up for it here: []

        When it was first introduced, telemarketing calls pretty much stopped dead. For a while. But after a while they started coming back. And funnily enough all the people on the other end had American accents now (or were pre-recorded Americans). And indeed I asked one of them once where he was located, and he said Texas.

        Of course, the Australian Do Not Call register only applies to calls placed in Australia. So they got around it by setting up operations in the US and calling back to Australia. I imagine they use some form of VoIP for the international leg otherwise the phone bills would be obscene.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          You're correct. There are a few companies who will ( do the telemarketing on the cheap. Not only will they call from the USA to Australia, but they'll also provide even cheaper telemarketing from the offices in Manila. All managed from the USA. However, the ACMA still control who is called by regulating the lists, and who has access to them. If the original contact list originated from within Australia, it falls under the ACMA. If that list contains numbers on their DNC l

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by nulldaemon ( 926551 )
            Well in Australia it's your responsibility that whomever you outsource your telemarketing to, whether they are located inside or outside Australia, do not call people on the DNC. It has to be in your contract with them or *you* will get hit with massive fines.
        • Re:Won't matter (Score:4, Informative)

          by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @06:00AM (#29228527)

          I'd be almost positive those calls are not originating from the US.

          I'm Australian, I live in the Philippines. Everyone here speaks with a US accent from birth (when they speak English anyway, or is that American?). There are quite a multitude of call centers throughout the country that are devoted entirely to spamming various parts of the world. They are fully legal, earn the local economy quite a big chunk of profit so there is no government incentive to get rid of them. The locals don't just spam via telephone, there are also forum spammers for hire, along with any other method you can think of to get your message 'out there'. If there is money to be made, someone here will do it.

          Oddly enough there are virtually no telemarketing calls to annoy us locally, no junk mail in the letterbox, and very little domestic spam through email.

      • Re:Won't matter (Score:4, Informative)

        by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Friday August 28, 2009 @02:13AM (#29227529)

        Not true. The real problem is that enough people don't complain and their is a level of apathy involved.

        The FCC and Attorney Generals go after the companies providing the products being sold (more specifically those who profit) and not the call centers. When you get one of these calls you need to listen to them. Ask them questions about their products. What is the name of the product? It's manufacturer? Try to get some information.

        Information is the real weapon. Once you call the FCC to complain you will be able to provide them with what they need to successfully identify the company and levy fines against them.

        There is no getting around the DNC regardless of the location. It's just that not enough people are cooperating with the FCC to hurt them enough.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by codeguy007 ( 179016 )

          The product name and manufacturer's name are not necessarily the information they need. Most manufacturer's don't distribute their products themselves so it won't be them hiring the telemarketers. Now they should have a list of distributors for the FCC to investigate. Also the companies can be just importing the stuff. Now you could block that company from importing but they would just start another.

          It's a no win battle as long as consumers continue to buy from telemarkers and spammers. They wouldn't do it

    • Re:Won't matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:53PM (#29226435)

      There's already a "Do not call" mechanism that's ignored.

      Junk phone calls are just a small fraction of what they were before the list, I'm surprised how effective it has been. So, I'm all for closing remaining loopholes.

    • "There's already a "Do not call" mechanism that's ignored"

      I haven't gotten a single call on my mail line since the day I put it on the Do Not Call List.

      Recently I got another number and couldn't figure out why I was suddenly getting unsolicited calls. Then I remembered the DNC List and once again haven't gotten a single unwanted call.

      • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:11AM (#29226891) Journal

        I haven't gotten a single call on my mail line since the day I put it on the Do Not Call List.

        Then you are amazingly lucky or keep your phone turned off most of the time. There was at least one outfit [] that was literally war dialing every single possible valid NANP number. They called police dispatchers, the White House, military bases, Congressional offices, etc, etc. I got at least three or four calls from them per month until the FTC shut them down.

        They were a bunch of cocksuckers too. You'd challenge them on ANYTHING and they'd just hang up you. I gave up on trying to get removed from their "list" and tried to pretend to want to do business with them. They wanted a credit card and when I told them I didn't have one and wanted to mail them a check they gave me an "address" of "4321 Main St. Some Random City and Zipcode" and hung up on me.

        Eventually I gave up on trying to figure out who they are and just started being incredibly nasty to them. I'd bust out the 'C' word if I wound up with a female caller and various racial epithets for the male callers. Most of them would hang up but a few of them got into shouting matches with me over how horrible it was to use such words. I'm not actually a racist or sexist but I figured it was the best way to piss someone off over the phone with a single word before they could hang up. Since they consumed my cell phone minutes and interrupted multiple dinners I figured it was only fair.

        • by bronney ( 638318 ) on Friday August 28, 2009 @12:37AM (#29227005) Homepage

          The best way is to make it matters legally. Give them your credit card number, the one you don't use often or just sign one up just for this. Let them charge it, then take it up to the card center and police and say you have a lead on someone using your credit card illegally. If it's no traceable, you can't prove enough to charge my card either. If it is, you get the fuckers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            What will happen is that the bank which issued your credit car will eat the charge and you will never hear anything more of it. In fact, even if they do track down the perps, they won't share the information with you. They tend to be really tight-lipped about anything like that.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              And it will mess with your credit rating. Having half-a-dozen cards stolen over the course of a few years is a very good indication to banks that you're a good credit risk to a bank, even if it's merely a risk of your wasting their time and money this way.

    • This appears to me that it will weaken the existing prohibition against this practice by providing the "in writing" loophole. Calling without a real person on the other end was already illegal except in limited circumstances due to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA) []

      (1) Prohibitions

      It shall be unlawful for any person within the United States, or
      any person outside the United States if the recipient is

      • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:58PM (#29226821)

        For fuck's sake, a contract isn't an atomic sacred unit of holy marketology. It's just a piece of paper.

        The problem is Common Law, which holds that a contract is almost as sacred a the Ten Commandments except in limited circumstances. Courts have long rules that many sorts of contract are invalid if one party is deceived. Long form contracts with surprisingly asymmetric benefits to the drafted of the contract are a relatively modern chapter in the long history of contracts design to deceive. In practice, nobody reads the fine print. Saying "well, people should" is counterproductive because you know in practice that very few people will. By that logic, you can reduce all law to "well, people really shouldn't hurt each other."

        What matters is how the contract is commonly understood, not what it actually says. It's high time for contracts of adhesion [] to be held to much stricter standards. Specifically,

        1. No requirement of a standard form contract not commonly understood to be part of a contract of that type is enforceable.
        2. What "commonly understood" means is to be constituted by an impartial poll of the issue in question

        That means that if a cell phone company, for instance, claims that their contract allows them to give your number to telemarketers, that clause is unenforceable unless the writer of the contract can show, via an impartial third party poll, that common people understand the contract to permit that right.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by m.ducharme ( 1082683 )

          In general I'd agree with your post, but perhaps take it a step further. It's not just that nobody reads the "fine print", the real problem is that nobody can really understand the fine print unless they go to law school and study contracts. Not many people who read the contract all the way through will understand that clauses 2 and 6 puts them over a barrel, but clause 10 is so ridiculous that no court in the land will enforce it, and you can agree to it to your heart's content but you're not actually boun

    • Over the past couple of years or so, I've gotten probably a few hundred robocalls from about five different sources. I await in anticipation to see if any of these drop off the radar as a result of the new law.

  • by QuoteMstr ( 55051 ) <> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:46PM (#29226391)

    Governmunt regulation is bad and socialist and communist and will make our children weak and effeminate. I know it's true because Ronald Raygun told me so. Why does the FTC hate America?


    • Government regulation is often needed. Government services almost never are. Go ahead and regulate, but don't create more offices and busywork programs.

  • by CustomDesigned ( 250089 ) <> on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:47PM (#29226399) Homepage Journal

    Presumably, "opt-in" counts as "in writing", and my library will continue to robocall to announce that my book on hold is available. But on the flip side, I can see all sorts of obscure checkboxes when you order online that enable robocalls should you not notice and check/uncheck them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. I somehow highly doubt "in writing" means actually writing a physical letter, or even personally writing an email. It'll be more along the line of "you must accept the license agreement where the telemarketing clause is buried on page 281. Bonus points if those license agreements you "sign" make you expressly grant the right to the provider to extend your "consent" to third parties (which may then do the same), and where each party may modify the agreement at any time without notification, which yo

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      Presumably, "opt-in" counts as "in writing", and my library will continue to robocall to announce that my book on hold is available.

      Since that is an entity you have a pre-existing relationship with, I don't think they'd be blocked anyway. Just like I'm sure you'll still receive automated collections calls from creditors you're past due with. They aren't telemarketers making cold calls.

  • Unenforceable (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:48PM (#29226407)

    Scumbags who use robocalls don't care about laws or reputations. Most of the products they peddle are outright scams or at the very least a bad deal for customers.

    The perpetrators will set up shop offshore and evade detection. This law, just like CAN-SPAM, will make no difference at all.

  • loopholes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The problem is that any language they put in the bill to protect mass "information only" calls, can also be used as justification by clever spammers. "But we weren't trying to sell anything... we are trying to educate prequalified members of the public on this issue, and were merely pointing them to our web site filled with articles from experts and offer them the opportunity to join our community of interested citizens absolutely free of charge."

  • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:53PM (#29226437) Journal

    So.. what's the going rate for a callcenter in... well, what's the cheapest place nowadays?

    Paying somebody to call a bunch of numbers, regurgitate a preconceived message, then transfer to the appropriate office if the called person takes the bait... can't be all -that- expensive* and circumvents the 'pre-recorded' bit of a 'robocall', right?

    If -only- that bit is what is ruled against, then an automated dialer can still at least only transfer those who answer the phone to the poor sod with the aforementioned job, too.

    Surely a loophole can't be that big?

    * more expensive than a completely automated dealie, of course, but the above is, I presume, the way they did this -before- such technology was available..

    • If they already have a call center in the cheapest place, I can guarrantee they don't care about the pre-recorded law as they aren't in the US.

    • Yeah, this strikes me as a roundabout way to make telemarketing calls more expensive. Why not tax them instead, whether they're pre-recorded or not?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by QuoteMstr ( 55051 )

        Because we only adopt "market-based" solutions when they benefit the existing oligarchs. Putting a fair price on a shared resource in order to establish an efficient market is SOCIALIST AND THEREFORE EVIL.

        • Price fixing and taxation are not the same. Twisting the terminology to bash people you disagree with only makes you look deceptive. On another note, who are the oligarchs in charge of telemarketing?

  • Hrmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:55PM (#29226457) Homepage

    Happy Dude is not going to be happy.

  • in fact, the last 3 or 4 days (strange coincidence) I've been getting calls that ID themselves as 'sbc messaging' (calif). my answering machine (real actual one, not a phone-company service) picks up and takes their message. I get home and play back the recordings and they are *just* "we're sorry.". and that's all they say!


    really. wtf? what purpose is that? chew up my 'tape' space? (no I'm not literally tape-based, just a figure of speech, y'know).

    so, I try calling back since they did leave an ac

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      You can do that with asterisk, if you don't mind leaving an asterisk server running all the time. You can set up a full voice menu system and I've never seen a unsolicited commercial caller get through one even as simple as "Press 1 if this is an marketing call, otherwise press 2". Asterisk can also work with caller ID and you can install black or white lists, however you want to do it.

      It is kind of a pain in the ass to set up and you need some specialized hardware (FXO/FXS card or a SIP gateway such as t

  • Fine print (Score:5, Informative)

    by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) * on Thursday August 27, 2009 @10:57PM (#29226469)
    With the rules, prerecorded commercial telemarketing robocalls will be prohibited, unless the telemarketer has obtained permission in writing from consumers who want to receive such calls.


    You can expect the "permission" to be buried in the fine print of phone contracts, software licenses, and the like. And be sure to remember to uncheck that "share your information with third parties" box.
    • Yes, and we can easily circumvent this by writing down with your pen on the same contract paper stating that using any information beyond the scope of this transaction will result on violation of terms and hence termination of contract without cause.
      Make a photocopy of the contract.
      This means, if the Telco robocalls you, send a copy of the contract and tell them the contract is over and you will be switching the provider.

  • Well, thanks folks.

    Those assholes with the robocallers are now going to phoning Canada with their scams, because it's out of jurisdiction. We saw it with the do not call list, and now...

    Hell. I might just stop answering my phone entirely.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Hell. I might just stop answering my phone entirely.

      You answer your phone? I answer my phone for my immediate family. Period. Everyone else who bothers calling get's my voice mail--and they know that. If I ever get a call from spam it goes on my spam list. If people want to get in touch with me, they need to learn how to use email. I simply don't get bothered any more.

      Questions you may have: (Q) what if it is an emergency? (A) dial 9-1-1 for emergencies; (Q) but my land line doesn't have all those fancy features (A) turn off your land line ringer.

  • capcha time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:01PM (#29226499)

    I'm thinking it might be time.

    something that ensures a human is at the other end, and a thinking one, at that. yeah.

    phone spam is getting to the point where we need blacklists and whitelists. wildcards on names, numbers in caller-id. or even trapping on lack of caller-id.

    arms race they want? we can meet that challenge.

    but its a damned shame we've let ourselves get to this point ;(

  • Canada (Score:2, Insightful)

    Most of the robo calls (all scams) that I get in Canada come from the US. I hope that this is not allowed. Also will they just move to India or whatnot and phone North America? The best place to block these calls is at the Telco level. Have people dial a code when crap calls come in. Then after a handful of crap calls are noted the number is blocked for all people who opt into this system for all users of the Telco. This would not only block scams and whatnot but it would block all numbers that other people
  • it's only that some are more equal than others:

    However for those who have called on the FTC to help eliminate the other phone scourge - political robocalls - the new rules will not help. Calls from political campaigns are considered protected speech the FTC said.

  • Next they can ban those annoying spam text messages.
  • I don't ask for much. I just want $16 per spam mail.
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) * on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:09PM (#29226565) Journal
    I'd rather get 10 spam messages than one phone call. The phone call distracts me from my day to day activities, while email is a mode I put myself to check. I'm glad they're outlawing robocalls.
  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:11PM (#29226579) Homepage

    That wouldn't be so bad, except no one here speaks Spanish. So I have no idea if it's a bill collector, a telemarkter, or a candidate running for office in a Spanish speaking area.

    All the Spanish I know is basically ordering a beer and asking for directions to the bathroom, so I know they're not selling Dos Equis or directions to the toilet.

    • by Kozz ( 7764 )


      All the Spanish I know is basically ordering a beer ...

      "El queso está viejo y pútrido. Dónde está el sanitario?" [/obscure]

    • by acehole ( 174372 )

      ...or an area wide zombie alert.

  • Penalities (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pwizard2 ( 920421 ) on Thursday August 27, 2009 @11:34PM (#29226701)

    I wouldn't consider paying a fine (in this case, $16K/incident) to be much of a punishment. Sure, the robocaller stops bothering me, but once the robocaller is fined the government keeps it all. Every time a robocaller calls me, I'm the one who is inconvenienced, so why don't I get anything for helping to bring one of these guys down? It seems to me that if I report the number and it gets successfully prosecuted, I should get a cut of the reward. You can take the $16K fine and split it up equally among the people who reported that same number, and everyone wins.

    It will never happen that way, though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by QuoteMstr ( 55051 )

      once the robocaller is fined the government keeps it all.

      Yes, but that's $16k you don't have to pay in taxes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pwizard2 ( 920421 )

        Yes, but that's $16k you don't have to pay in taxes.

        Yes, but the FTC is already funded with tax money as part of the budget. The 16K is just free money to them. Do you really think they should get a $16k bonus per incident to do what they should be doing anyway? Robocallers have gotten more and more prevalent in recent years and no one does anything until it becomes a huge problem. It's not like they are funded entirely by penalties... if they were, they would come down hard on every robocaller they could

        • Yes, but the FTC is already funded with tax money as part of the budget. The 16K is just free money to them. Do you really think they should get a $16k bonus per incident to do what they should be doing anyway?

          So that's $16k more worth of FTCish activities they can do. I fail to see the problem. It's still redistributing wealth from those who irritate society to those who can benefit it.

          • So that's $16k more worth of FTCish activities they can do.

            Except there's no way to be sure of that. Knowing the government, The money would probably be skimmed off someplace else. It still doesn't do me any good.

            • Huh? Either 1) the money goes to the FTC, and funds its activities, or 2) the money goes to the general fund, where it can offset taxes (or debt). Or are you claiming that money the government receives in fines is somehow specially vulnerable to embezzlement?

              Or are you an idiot devoteé of Grover Norquist who believes that a dollar for the government is a dollar for evil?

  • Is this trespassing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Let me say this first: I'm an aussie and (thankfully) we don't have the issues that you guys seem to have in the U.S. with all these telemarketers.

    Could not the whole telemarketing thing be put under a trespassing code, rather than a freedom of speech one? As far as I'm aware (which is not at all), you guys can put a sign on your front gate that says 'No Trespassing' which will stop any door-to-door salesmen. This of course doesn't stop someone standing at your front gate shouting slogans and the what-not.


    • In Australia, at least, a No Trespassing sign does NOT provide any protection from door to door salesmen, con artists, Jehovah's Witnesses or ... wait, I'm repeating myself aren't I? Anyway, they're entitled to come to your door and nag you until you tell them to bugger off. Only then, if they refuse to leave, are they trespassing. Even when you've got a flip up cover over the doorbell that says "No Sales Persons, No Canvassing" they flip up the bloody thing then say two things, in order:

      1. I didn't see the

  • The government can make all the regs they want, the telcoes render then null and void. We already have plenty of rules against junk faxes, violating the do not call registery, outright scam calls, etc. Now what do you do when you get one? The ones you would want to make pay always either blank out the caller-id or put a totally bogus (I get a lot of 1-555-* myself) number into the field. So that means the telco would have to give you the identity of the caller. Obviously THEY know who it is, they have

  • With VoIP technologies and techniques, how long before people attempt to skirt the rules by operating outside of U.S. borders?

  • Last I looked, the senators took pains to draft into the bill that they themselves were exempt from the no-robocall rule for their political campaigns. (and my phone did ring off the hook with campaign robocalls in the last few elections too) Is this still the case?

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      You'd think using robocalls would be political suicide. If I were a politician I'd hire a robo-calling company claiming to be from the other side. I'm pretty sure that trick's been used before, too...
  • Now who is doing to tell me when the warranty on a vehicle which I may or may not own is going to expire?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EEBaum ( 520514 )
      Perhaps they'll attach a notice to the Bed Bath & Beyond 20% off coupon that arrives in the mail on days ending in "y".
  • It seems like an obvious thing to add with todays level of technology. Although I have been registered on the do not call list for years, and that has not stopped many companies from interrupting my daily life with mortgage ads, and other unwanted sales pitches.
  • ... that there are seemingly a number of surprisingly 'good' things (for the people) coming out of our various federal departments recently?

    I'm curious if this has to do with better appointments to tops, better pressures, coincidence, or maybe a seriously interesting change for the better in government....

    I doubt the last one, lol.

    • I'm guessing it's because all the frontlash/backlash about everything and everybody in politics these days. I think people woke up a little to politics and what's going on in government. Before, things were "good enough," now everything is in an upheaval and people are paying attention.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito