(b) No person shall operate an automatic dialing-announcing device except in accordance with this article. The use of such a device by any person, either individually or acting as an officer, agent, or employee of a person or corporation operating automatic dialing-announcing devices, is subject to this article.
(a) Whenever telephone calls are placed through the use of an automatic dialing-announcing device, the device may be operated only after an unrecorded, natural voice announcement has been made to the person called by the person calling. The announcement shall do all of the following:
(1) State the nature of the call and the name, address, and telephone number of the business or organization being represented, if any.
(2) Inquire as to whether the person called consents to hear the prerecorded message of the person calling.
For the past few weeks I’ve been reporting on Alameda Superior Court Candidate Victoria Kolakowski’s illegal robodialing she is currently using as part of her unethical campaign for Alameda Superior Court Judge.
Kolakowski interrupted my son’s baseball game a few Sunday’s back when she illegally robodialed my cell phone with this recorded message by Oakland City Attorney John Russo.
Currently the California PUC (where Kolakowski is a sitting law judge sworn to uphold the law) regulates robodialing in the state of California. As you can see from the California code above, robodialing people in the State of California is explicitly illegal unless first introduced by an unrecored “natural voice announcement” asking if you will allow it. The fact that Kolakowski is a sitting law judge at the very agency that regulates illegal robodials (while using them herself) is troubling to me. Does Kolakowski think that she is above the law? And is this the sort of person we’d want as a Superior Court Judge?
Apparently the Kolakowski campaign has gotten back to KCBS claiming that “one interpretation of the law” is that her robodials are not “technically” illegal because she hired someone to make the calls from outside of the State of California. From KCBS’s update:
“Kolakowski says her calls, that feature the Oakland city attorney promoting her local candidacy, are being placed from outside California and thus outside CPUC jurisdiction. Under one interpretation of the law, that would make them legal.”
So let me see if I get this straight. Even though robocalls are *explicitly* illegal in the State of California, a law judge at the California PUC (the very agency that is charged with enforcing this law) thinks that it’s ok to hire some political hack to make illegal calls from outside of the state into the state?
So then under this logic all *any* company has to do to illegal robodial people in California is simply have the calls originate from out of state? So any California insurance company or bank or telemarketing scam selling auto warranties or carpet cleaning company or mattresses company or whatever, can just hire some company to start blasting millions of robodials into California homes and this is hunky dory? How fast do you think the California PUC would shut down an auto warranty scam from Arkansas targeting California seniors with illegal robodials?
The California Code to me is clear that not only can California businesses or corporations or campaigns not make illegal robodials, that agents on their behalf also cannot.
If *anyone* can simply pay to have their calls done from another state, this means that the California law does absolutely *nothing* to protect our privacy from these unwanted intrusions into our lives and homes. Under Kolakowski’s interpretation, our law has no teeth.
California businesses (including campaigns) should be subject to California law.
The fact that a current law judge at the PUC would try to twist the law this way is enormously offensive to me. But I suppose that’s just politics as usual. Politicians get to cheat and get away with it.
Even if one could argue this case on a technicality, the spirit of the California law is clear. It was enacted to protect Californians from these unwanted calls. I’m disappointed that Kolakowski would stoop to this low level and hope that you will join me in voting against her in the upcoming race for Alameda Superior Court judge. Our public servants should obey both the letter and the spirit of the law.
Update: On Slashdot here.