Update: Political Do Not Call list doubles after I-Team 10 report on robo-calls
Posted at: 10/16/2012 10:53 AM
| Updated at: 10/17/2012 4:21 PM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com
The website trying to stop those recorded political phone calls doubled its local membership overnight after I-Team10 investigated the onslaught of robo-calls to your homes.
Today we learned that www.stopthepoliticalcalls.org signed up 1,700 new members from the Rochester region as of noon Wednesday.
Before the I-Team10 report, there were only 2,000 local members signed up.
Here's the story
They can be one of the most annoying things during an election season -- those recorded political phone calls to your home. A lot of people think that if they sign up on the do not call registry it blocks the political calls.
Political robo-calls are protected by the first amendment. But I-Team10 found a place where you can go that will tell your local politicians -- don't bother calling.
You can find a link to the website below
Just listen to what Tacha Gennarino does for a living.
"I co-own creek alpacas. We own candle company. I run a marketing company and I work for pearson education as a structural designer," she said.
So she's pretty busy.
That's why she gets annoyed when her phone rings and it's a political robo-call. This year, one came from former candidate for New York governor Carl Paladino. Another from Mitt Romney. They called her because she's a registered republican. Candidates in both parties make these calls.
"I feel they're invading my privacy. They're invading my home with their message and if they really want to do that they should come to my front door and talk to me," Gennarino said.
Political robo-calls are pre-recorded messages that start as soon as you answer your phone. We got one emailed to us from a group The Congressional Leadership Fund.
When the government created the do not call registry it exempted political calls. In a twitter Q&A, the Federal Trade Commission said it's because the calls are "protected by the 1st amendment." The question was asked by @EndtheRobocalls, a twitter handle created by a man named Shaun Dakin.
"People are sick and tired of getting robo-calls," Dakin told us in a Skype interview.
Five years ago Dakin had enough. So he started a different registry called the National Political Do Not Call registry and it's website -- www.stoppoliticalcalls.org.
In 2008 he testified in front of a senate committee looking into the calls.
Click here to watch the testimony
He says they are the equivalent of spam.
"There's no discourse, no political discourse, no conversation, just messages shoved down your throat," Dakin said.
Here's how his website works. You sign up including your address. The site then contacts your local politicians and their campaigns and asks them not to contact you. The politicians only see your phone number, not your name.
We wanted to know what local candidates think about this. Maggie Brooks -- running for congress -- said she doesn't plan on using robo-calls at all.
"I do make personal calls, those are not robo calls. That's me calling voters just to say what's on your mind and talk to them directly," Brooks said.
Brooks' competitor, Rep. Louise Slaughter, declined to talk to us about this story.
Tacha Gennarino did not know about stop the political calls until we told her about it. She's looking for anything that will stop her phone from ringing.
"I think they can add value to a voter who doesn't have the information but for me I don't want their information influencing my decision. So I would prefer to be on a list that says don't call," she said.
Shaun Sakin told me half a million people are signed up on the political do not call registry in the country. But only 2,000 from the Rochester area have signed up and not one politician from New York has signed up with the website.
Again -- because these phone calls are protected free speech the constitution says you can't outlaw them. Dakin says his website can be a deterrent. He says why would politicians want to upset a potential voter by calling them when they're on the record asking them not to?