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Rep. Watkins cell phone anti marketing bill passes House
Rep. Gerald Watkins filed bill to stop cell phone telemarketing.

Cell number protection bill receives House OK

FRANKFORT-- The marketing, selling or sharing of a subscriber's cell phone number for commercial reasons without the person's written consent would be illegal under a bill that has passed the Kentucky House.

Penalties would be stiff for wireless service providers, directory providers or others who violate the prohibitions in House Bill 413, sponsored by Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah, with fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per violation, according to the bill. A separate fine would be levied for each instance where a wireless number is illegally marketed, shared or sold.

Watkins said he filed the bill after receiving telemarketing calls for years despite having his phone number on the official government do-not-call list.

"I begged them, I pleaded with them, I've sweet-talked them, I've played along with them and they just hang up on me," said Watkins. "In a 20-day period, I collected seven different numbers that they called from--the same company--and turned them over to the Attorney General and they were (untraceable)... So I decided to go after the ones who were actually selling this list and providing them to telemarketers."

Watkins said everyone he has talked to has had a similar experience, adding that he is particularly concerned for the elderly who receive calls from "unscrupulous" telemarketers trying to defraud them.

The bill would exempt those who share a wireless number for law enforcement or other emergency purposes, wireless services transferring service at the customer's request, sales agents who provide wireless numbers to a wireless service for billing or customer service, the sharing of wireless numbers through open records, or numbers shared by wireless providers or directory companies as part of their service to the subscriber.

Wireless numbers disclosed because of a criminal act, such as a breach, would also not be considered a violation as long as the wireless service or directory provider attempts to notify the subscriber of the issue.

Speaking in support of the bill was Rep. David Hale, R-Wellington, who said he, like Watkins, has received unwanted calls that he can't track down, including a recent call from Boise, Idaho he received a few days ago.

"I'm thinking 'who do I know from Boise, Idaho?' I answer the call, and it is someone trying to sell me a credit card. So I call the number back after immediately hanging up and it's a number that says no longer in service," said Hale. "I do applaud the gentleman for this bill, and I support it wholeheartedly."

HB 413 passed the House 95-0 and now goes to the Senate.


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