Editorial: Robocalls are unwanted intrusion | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Robocalls are unwanted intrusion


The phone rings. You know who it is. No, wait. You know what it is.

It’s not a friend asking you to lunch. It’s not a neighbor asking to borrow your lawnmower. It’s probably not even your pharmacy reminding you that your prescription is ready.

There is an ever-increasing likelihood that when your phone rings, it isn’t someone you know. It isn’t someone who knows you. It isn’t someone at all.

It’s a robocall — an autodialed communication that pulled your number from a database and connected you to either a recorded message or a simulation of a call that analyzes your words and responds with a preprogrammed set of answers.

Isn’t technology wonderful?

Earlier this month, Gov. Tom Wolf signed changes to the Telemarketer Registration Act that will eliminate a requirement for telephone customers to renew participation in the Pennsylvania do-not-call registry every five years. It will also allow businesses to opt out of the list.

And that is great. It’s just not enough.

Robocalls are the ultimate expression of the idea that just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should.

No one wants to get a robocall — with the very rare exception of that notice from your pharmacy about a prescription, or a message from your kid’s school about a snow day. But both of those instances are probably handled with text messages or emails, too.

No one really trusts a robocall. So many are electronic voices that don’t just offer you a fabulous timeshare experience in Las Vegas. No, they’re threatening you with an arrest warrant if you don’t settle a mythical IRS debt by sending the PIN numbers for $2,000 in Target gift cards. (And why is it always Target gift cards?)

Robocalls are intrusive and intimidating. They can leave you feeling annoyed at best and alarmed at worst. They are a cheap but horribly inefficient form of advertising because they are intrinsically identified with sketchy scams.

So why can’t we do more about them than just making a list of who shouldn’t be called?

The state and the Federal Communications Commission should be requiring more of the effort be on the side of the callers than the recipient. They should be making it easy for customers to not just ask not to receive calls but to find a way to effectively block them.

Because we all get robocalls, and we all wish we didn’t.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.