“Consumer” Redefined

Indiana passes new DNC Bill

On January 31 2011, Indiana passed a new bill through the house that expands the DNC program to include wireless numbers. The bill redefines a ‘consumer’ to be more than a person who owns a landline in Indiana. The term ‘consumer’ now encompasses all Indiana residents who use telephone service in a “primary place of use.” The distinction between consumer leads and business leads have been blurred significantly under this new bill. A ‘primary place of use’ is defined as “the street address of where the consumer’s use of telephone services ‘primarily’ occurs.” In other words, this includes any and all residential street addresses, VOIP user’s registered location, and all wireless numbers.

Things get more interesting when HR 1273 redefines the term “telephone sales call.” Right now it means a telephone call (including recorded messages) made to a consumer with the purpose of making a sale or soliciting a charitable donation. Under the new language, the term expands to include:

  • Transmission of a text message or graphic message using SMS
  • Transmission of an image, a photograph or a multimedia message using MMS
  • Transmission of a communication or message using similar methods or technologies as mentioned above.

Big change here. As technology changes, new communication avenues open up in the marketplace for marketers, it’s inevitable that legislators and regulators will make changes that address new technology. From a marketer’s point of view, this is more weight to push up the hill, another hoop to jump through. This law covers pretty much everyone and their grandmother. So who can marketers reach? Only people who are not on the DNC. This list used to include all business numbers but now that VOIP and Wireless numbers are allowed on the list, free of charge no less, it will be increasingly difficult to reach consumers in Indiana.

HR1273 is now under consideration by the Indiana Senate. In the meantime, expect to see a flurry of activity at the state level as other states begin to realize that their own DNC statutory language needs to be brought up to date.