Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

Summary: I've decided that if I get a robocall from someone, they're not worthy of my vote.

TOPICS: CXO, Emerging Tech

For those of you who thought we would no longer be plagued by constant robocalls, boy have we been proven wrong!

Last year, the FTC enacted a new robocall ban which blocked product sale-related robocalls. Unfortunately, the law left open a gaping loophole, which allowed political robocalls to continue unchecked.

It's almost impossible to tell just how many robocalls have gone out this election season, but judging just from my own personal experience, it's been an incredible number.

Over the past week, we've gotten about five robocalls a day, and there was a day last week (when I was writing on deadline, thank you very much!) when I think we got close to ten calls in one single day.

Again, speaking from my experience, alone, this is far more than we got during the 2008 presidential campaign, when we'd get one call every couple of days.

Now, I respect good marketing. Heck, without good marketing, I wouldn't be able to make my living, because ad sales are what, ultimately, pay writers. But this is reaching an untenable level and I honestly don't think it's helping the candidates.

There are a lot of great ways to get to know the local or statewide candidates, but getting an intrusive call in the middle of work, dinner, early in the morning, or late at night isn't the way to make the sale.

Unfortunately, there's not a lot we can do to make the calls stop. Sure, we could block any caller ID that registers as "Out of Area" or "Anonymous Caller". And sure, we could hit up our lawmakers to pass a law, but on this, they're not going to listen. You gotta know the reason those "public servants" left permission for political calls in the new 2009 robocall restriction is because they want to use them.

So I've decided on my own approach. Arlo Guthrie described it best. Hmmm, actually, I can't tell you what Arlo said, because if you go back and look at his lyrics for Alice's Restaurant, you'll find a very non-politically correct slur in there. Oops.

But the point is simple. If just I do it, then nothing really will change. But if we all adopt this simple strategy, then it can become a movement.

What's that strategy? It's simple really. Vote against anyone who robocalls you. That's it. I've decided that if I get a robocall from someone, they're not worthy of my vote.

Do you feel the same way? If so, take the Anti-Robocall Pledge. Stand up, raise your right hand, and repeat after me:

I (state your name) do hereby solemnly swear that I shall faithfully uphold the rights and responsibilities of an Anti-Robocall Pledger. I (state your name) swear that I shall vote against anyone who calls me using a robot dialer. I (state your name) also swear that I will send David home-baked cookies.

What, if you're in the swearing and promising mood, you don't think I should try to snooker cookies out of you? OK, fine. It never works anyway!

Oh, and yes, I did discover how to use polls here on ZDNet. Cool, huh? Here's a poll. Answer away.

[poll id="51"]

TalkBack below. What do you think of robocalls?

Topics: CXO, Emerging Tech


David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • So, in other words...

    ...you aren't going to vote. Or, maybe you will vote, but for one of those no-name candidates from a party you've never heard of, because they are the only ones who can't afford robo calls.

    Just a thought, but how about we choose who to vote for based on their position on issues that matter to us or to the country? I know, that's old fashioned thinking, but after the last few jokers we have elected maybe it it time to get back to the old way of doing things.
    • agree

      @itpro_z ...and this guy is always touting his political savvy.
  • Problem is, most voters won't do that

    Candidates know that a Dem will vote Dem and a REP will vote REP.

    That is the fact.

    So, you may be angry now. But, you know what? Wednesday after the election you will forget all about political robocalls. The politicians know that even though you don't :)

    In the meantime, you can join us.

    We are a non-profit non-partisan group since 2007 working for the American voter and their privacy rights.

    I've testified at the US senate and been seen on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC.

    Shaun Dakin
    The National Political Do Not Contact Registry
    • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

      @sdakin@... Shaun is right, and I've heard of his group before. Definitely give his group a visit.
      David Gewirtz
    • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

      BS I'll forget all about it. It's so pervasive here it's totally unacceptable, especially if you are disabled and have trouble getting to the phone and find just dead air. A crackpot politician here has groups calling up to 12 times a day. The calls don't stop untiil they get you to answer, even if you do pick up and their cadre of dialers has already found someone who answered on the 25-number simultaneous dial,, leaving everyone else, even though they answer in a short time, to experience nothing but dead air. There should be a low that you can tell them not to call you again but there is no such thing.
      I quit voting for them long ago. I can't say I vote against them because often all parties are guilty of it on some ballots, so I don't even vote on that line. This is NY; I even got one call from the GOVERNOR of New Jersey in one of the crusades against a really good candidate.
  • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

    If you need robo-calls to get elected.... you probably don't HAVE any meaningful positions to run on.
    • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

      And besides, all they do is sling mud at their opponents; there is never any useful information in them.
  • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

    Funny thing. I've only gotten one so far. I must not be in an in-play demographic.

    I heard of some candidates who unleashed robocalls which were made in the very early morning or very late at night. It was made to sound as though it had been placed by the opponent.

    One sad fact about politics, convincing someone to not vote makes it more likely that the base can determine the election.
  • Politicians are all advised by the same cabal

    The campaign managers who decide the tactics used by candidates are mainly cut from the same cloth and use the same tried-and-true methods no matter what the merits of the candidate might be. If you are not getting robocalls and attack ads from a candidate, it means either of two things: the candidate has a lock on the election, or they ran out of money.
    terry flores
  • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

    Past few days we had our share of calls of politicians or their fanbois (can I use that term like that ?). When it's clear there's an actual person on the other side, I just hand over the phone to one of my kids. And I tell 'here, this phone call is for you'.
  • Just slam it, as-fast-as-you-can.

    I couldn't even tell you which pol's I've received robo calls from, because as soon as I realize that it's a robo calling, I hang up. If everyone did that, they'd get the message.
    • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

      No, they just make another bulk call and you stay on their call list. Set the phone down and waster their time - it's more effective and costs them in other calls they could be making. It's MY phone and I'll do what I want with it.
  • RE: Take the Anti-Robocall Pledge

    I would be okay if the calls only came from a political party I was registered with. After all, companies and organizations you do business with are already exempt from the Do Not Call registry for obvious reasons. However, even they should only be allowed to call once, and stop if requested.
  • What about Negative Ads

    I think negative ads campaigns are much more important. Candidates who try to destroy their opponents instead of campaigning on their ideas are much more of a problem than some robocall.
    • Absolutely

      @Duncan651@... Absolutely agree... and in fact I have made it a point to vote against any candidate that engages in smear campaigns for the last several years. If it means I end up voting independent, then so be it. Way I look at it, if a candidate is not willing to address the issues such as ending these wars or dealing with the economy, they aren't worth my time. As it is, I strongly feel that we have a government that is essentially for sale to the highest bidder.
      • RE: government that is essentially for sale to the highest bidder.

        @Reindeer911 <br><br>That is no more true than the race for the Governor of Florida. Rick Scott, who formerly ran a company that paid over a $BILLION in fines for Medicare fraud, is trying to buy the office with his million$.<br><br>We truly have the `Best Government Money Can Buy`.
  • if i refused to vote for anyone i got a robo-call from....

    ... i would not be voting :(

    and i get them on my cell phone too :(
  • I've taken the anti-robo call pledge for ALL robo-calls.

    I am disabled. A ringing phone is extremely annoying to me, and I keep getting them for products and services I cannot possibly use. Any politician who thinks I will look favorably on a robo-call will lose my vote, as will any seller of anything who uses robo-calls. I also get them on my cell phone, which for me is an EMERGENCY ONLY phone. I no longer subscribe to any TV service as the ads are too irritating for the amount and quality of programming. I can't live without a phone, but anyone who uses a robot to call me WILL live without my vote or patronage.
  • We let the answering machine take it.

    The robots are programmed to go thru so they can get the minimum time required so the service gets paid for. If you don't listen to them and they pay, how effective was that. Just delete message later. This is their identity on our TV;


    Also campaign to get politicos on the do not call list like Shaun said above.
  • Dude... think of the environment maybe?

    Don't you love planet Earth? Aren't you concerned about the environment?

    So why would you advocate tossing politicians into our oceans, thus polluting them for centuries to come?

    My God man, think what will happen if all the humpback whales die off!!!!!
    Hallowed are the Ori