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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Federal judge rules Indiana can block automated telephone push polls
Robert DeVries at 6:57 AM ET

[JURIST] A federal judge in Indiana ruled [opinion text, PDF] Wednesday that Indiana correctly enforced its statute governing prerecorded messages when it chose to prohibit the Republican-backed Economic Freedom Fund (EFF) [advocacy website] from conducting automated attack push polls [SourceWatch backgrounder] in the state during the lead-up to the November elections. The Indiana statute [text] prohibits such automated calls unless they are prearranged by the recipient. FreeEats.com, the firm contracted by EFF to conduct the automatic callings, filed a federal suit challenging the law. Chief Judge Larry J. McKinney of the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana [official website] wrote that:

The statute is narrowly tailored to achieve the interest of protecting residential privacy. The statute protects and promotes privacy while not completely banning calls or foreclosing the ability of companies like FreeEats from still using prerecorded messages should they obtain prior consent to play the message. The statute also empowers the homeowner to choose what messages are unwanted by giving them the opportunity to decline to listen to a message at any time and the ability to request not to be called again, both without having to completely prevent all such calls
Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter [official website] applauded the ruling [press release], saying it "recognizes the individual privacy rights of citizens."

Carter sued the EFF in September after receiving consumer complaints regarding calls attacking Democratic Congressional candidate Baron Hill [campaign website] in his race against incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel [campaign website]. Carter has also sued American Family Voices [advocacy website], a Democratic backed 527 group that was conducting its own push poll attacks against Republican Rep. Mike Sodrel. AP has more.





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