Federal Appeals Court Upholds Indiana's Robocall Law
Says lower court should consider whether it violates free speech rights
A federal appeals court has given new life to Indiana's ban on some robocalls.
The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court judge was wrong to conclude that federal law superseded the state's regulation of certain automated calls. The appeals court instead ordered the judge to consider whether Indiana's law violated First Amendment free speech rights.
The law was challenged by an Illinois group called Patriotic Veterans Inc. The group made robocalls, sometimes using celebrities such as Pat Boone, to give potential voters opinions on politicians and issues they said should matter to veterans. In September 2011, U.S. District Judge William Lawrence ruled that the federal law governing telemarketing supplanted the state's law.
The appeals court ruling says that Indiana’s telephone privacy laws are not preempted by the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act. “This decision confirms the position we have been advocating for over a decade in every forum where our telephone privacy laws have been challenged," said Attorney General Greg Zoeller in a statement e-mailed to reporters. ". Federal law bearing on telemarketing simply does not preclude broader state prohibitions.”
The Indiana law says that telemarketers, including those calling on behalf of campaigns and political groups, are allowed to make automated calls to households only if a live operator first obtains the consumer's permission or if the recipient opts in to receiving such calls.