ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

EDITORIAL: Cell phone protection an easy call

Telemarketers are starting to do something worse than annoying people with unwanted calls at dinner time. They're starting to cost people in Wisconsin money by calling us on our mobile phones.

Telemarketers are starting to do something worse than annoying people with unwanted calls at dinner time. They're starting to cost people in Wisconsin money by calling us on our mobile phones.

They can do this even to state residents who register their phone numbers with the state's popular no-call list. The list only protects land-line phones. It doesn't apply to mobile phones.

The Wisconsin Senate unanimously voted last Feb. 19 to close this loophole in the law. Now the Assembly needs to approve and send Senate Bill 99 to the governor before adjourning this spring.

Two problems with the bill have been fixed. There's no excuse for not adopting this sensible restriction now.

The bill would boost the maximum fine from $100 to $1,000 for telemarketers who intentionally call people whose numbers are on the no-call list.

ADVERTISEMENT

That's a reasonable increase to discourage violations by large telemarketing firms. The bill originally sought to increase the maximum penalty to $10,000 per instance, which seemed excessive. Small businesses had legitimately worried that an isolated, unintentional slip-up could cost them thousands of dollars.

The bill also will not apply to fax machines, as originally proposed. This makes sense because fax machines are a fading technology intended more for business use and don't require people to answer them.

The revised bill now concentrates on the real problem -- annoying and unwanted calls to mobile phones. Unlike land-line phones that allow unlimited incoming calls for free, many cell phone companies charge users for incoming calls by the minute.

Other cell phone contracts give users a set number of minutes per month. If users go over their minutes, they're charged at a high rate. Unwanted telemarketing calls can push these users over their threshold and into significant per-minute charges.

It's time to update Wisconsin's no-call law to reflect changing technology and trends. Telemarketing calls to mobile phones are still fairly light. But that's sure to change as more people rely exclusively on mobile phones and give out their numbers.

The Assembly should hang up these annoying and increasingly expensive calls for those Wisconsin residents who sign up for no-call protection.

If lawmakers fail to act by spring, they can expect a slew of unwanted calls from angry constituents. That might not cost the lawmakers money. But it will cost them votes.

-- Wisconsin State Journal,

ADVERTISEMENT

Madison

What To Read Next