Make us your home page

Calling a halt to cellphone nuisance

Don't know about you, but just the other day I turned to the Tulip of Tiffany's and worried that we just weren't getting enough mindless, drivel-loaded, useless spam in our lives.

Spam, spam, spam, spam — please sir, could we have even more? Please?

Somehow it just doesn't seem the day has been fulfilled properly without Nigerian identity theft/bank scam solicitations coming across the Internet slop trough.

I'm especially fond of all the invitations for friendship from complete strangers. And then there are all the great deals encouraging the purchase of drugs to enhance … well, we'll just leave it at that.

So thank goodness there are distinguished public servants out there, like Nebraska Republican U.S. Rep. Lee Terry, who are willing to stand up and be counted as a champion for the irritating boiler room robo-call industry.

Now there's a legislative titan for you.

Terry is the creative genius behind the Mobile Informational Call Act of 2011, which would permit businesses or organizations to ring up your cellphone whenever they want. And here's the best part. You, of course, would have the privilege of paying for the call.

Think of this as the Association of Really Annoying Industries' patriotic contribution to stimulate the economy.

At the moment, mobile phone customers can only be robo-called if they have given their explicit consent to be interrupted in the middle of dinner to experience some come-on to purchase insurance, or contribute to a charity, or receive information from their bank.

Terry's legislation would do away with all that antisocial behavior and open up your cellphone access to the many fine and well-meaning telemarketers, political hucksters and charlatans competing to dip into your pocket.

As an extra, special touch, Terry should also include language that people receiving these unwanted calls must wait on the line feeling like complete morons for an additional 30 seconds before the recorded voice at the other end actually begins. Wouldn't that enhance the experience even more?

The rare cynic might suggest that rather than looking out for the privacy concerns of his constituents, the good congressman is really nothing more than a willing hot walker for special interests looking for additional ways to pester people.

That is so unfair. Just because Rep. Terry has taken in $73,000 in campaign contributions from the communications and electronics industries, is that any reason to believe he could be so easily bought off? Of course not! That would probably require the additional $79,000 he has accepted from the finance, insurance and real estate interests to really close the deal.

Who could possibly object to proposed legislation making it easier for corporate interests to more easily intrude upon your life? You have brought this on yourself, really, since more people have abandoned land lines in favor of cellphones, thus making it more difficult to sell you all kinds of worthless stuff or hector you with "informational" messages.

But never fear, Lee Terry will soon take care of that! Or will he?

In response to Terry's Mobile Information Nagging Call Act of 2011, 54 state and territorial attorneys general, including Florida's Pam Bondi, have joined together to urge Congress to consign the legislation to the junk heap of unbelievably dopey stuff elected officials dream up.

It is just a guess, but when 54 of the nation's various attorneys general band together in a bipartisan effort to declare Terry's effort to invade the collective privacy of Americans from coast to coast, it might be an indication this is probably the dumbest piece of federal lawmaking to come down the pike since Prohibition.

As well, when you consider how much most of us pay every month in cellphone charges, imagine what your bill would look like if you have a pay-by-the-minute and/or limited-minute plan once the robo-calls started pouring in?

And, as Bondi's office correctly pointed out, since many businesses frequently have inaccurate information in their files, it's entirely possible that not only do consumers run the risk of being stalked by robo-callers, you could very easily wind up paying for calls directed to the wrong number.

Yet another superb example of politicians diligently looking out for you.

Given the nationwide opposition by attorneys general to Lee's anti-consumerism, privacy-invading proposed legislation, it's hard to imagine this hooey ever becoming law. But you never know.

This is Congress after all, where the likes of Terry are wholly-owned subsidiaries of Washington's influence-peddling lobbyists, more than ready to do their bidding — whenever called upon.

Calling a halt to cellphone nuisance 01/02/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 1:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours