By Bob Katzen

The House gave initial approval to a bill that would prohibit robocalls to cell phones and other mobile electronic devices. The measure exempts messages from school districts to students, parents or employees; from companies advising employees of work schedules; from correctional facilities advising victims of the release of an offender; from municipalities and state government; from public utilities; and from persons concerning the care, services or supplies related to the health of an individual.

The measure would fine companies up to $10,000 if they make an illegal robocall and allow an individual who is called more than once in a year to sue a company for $10,000 in damages.

Supporters say it is time to put a stop to these calls which can be very annoying. They note that sometimes robocalls cost the cell phone user money if he or she pays for incoming calls.

“This legislation would be helpful to consumers dealing with the nuisance of unwanted telemarketing calls to their cell phones.” said sponsor William Straus (D-Mattapoisett). “We need the same protection for cell phones today as has been in place for landlines. Consumer protection statutes should advance with the changes in technology.”

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