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Local senator aims to ban political robo-calls

Jared Christman, Assistant News Editor
December 12, 2012
Filed under News

Despite a lingering partisan sentiment in Madison, the state Legislature may soon find something it can agree on.

Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, is drafting a plan to end political robo-calls — automated phone messages — in Wisconsin.

Hansen said he has received complaints from a number of people about the frequency of the calls.

“Robo-calls in general are so annoying that the Federal Trade Commission recently set up a $50,000 contest for the person who can come up with a way to stop them,” said Hansen.  “In the past, there has always been an exemption made for political robo-calls.   I want to ban them as well.  This past election I heard from people who were receiving five to 10 or more of these calls each day.”

According to a discussion board from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, many feel violated by the constant phone calls. Some people have decided to give up their landline phone service to avoid the calls.

Currently, 23 states have laws banning or limiting robo-calls, according to DMNews.

In California, it is illegal for a company to robo-call a person unless he or she has a pre-existing relationship, for example, a charity that a person has donated to in a past.

States like Indiana require an operator to ask permission before playing a recorded message.

In Wisconsin, there are no laws that restrict campaigns from calling people on the state level or nationally.

And even if someone requests his or her name be removed from a list, campaigns are not required to comply.

But changes may be in store. Robo-calls are being considered for placement on the Wisconsin No Call List.

The Wisconsin No Call List, which marks its 10th year running January 2013, has gained widespread support throughout the state. The service excludes people’s numbers from telemarketing services.

While the service is not yet perfected — the No. 1 consumer complaint is receiving telemarketing calls through No Call List violations — more than 2 million Wisconsin residents have signed up for the service

It comes as little surprise that there were some UW-Green Bay students on that list.

Like many UWGB students, Emily Schield, sophomore business major, finds robo-calls to be annoying.

“I would be OK with banning robo-calls,” Schield said. “It’s kind of a distraction to get a phone call, and we hear enough about politics on TV anyway.”

Moua Por Xiong, junior democracy and justice studies major, agreed with Schield’s statement.

“I don’t pick up their phone calls,” Xiong said. “If I don’t know who is calling me, I just ignore it.”

Hansen plans to propose his new bill at the beginning of the next term January 2013.