MJ on Sat'day: Who will stop the robots... who keep calling me?
IS THERE such a thing as privacy any more? The answer has to be a big no.
The last week or so we have been bombarded with the 'yes' or 'no' text and automated phone messages. Did you sign up for these?
No, neither did I.
What is the deal with that? Where did these people get our phone numbers from in the first place?
From the electoral roll registration perhaps - or did someone sell our private details?
One thing is the relentless debate and advertising on TV, radio and print media about the subject, which quite frankly is getting way too much oxygen in a society with an energy crisis pending, drought, housing affordability and potential nuclear confrontation with North Korea.
So what on earth gives the two sides in the debate about same-sex marriage the right to spam us with unsolicited phone calls and text messages in an attempt to tell us what to think, how to feel and vote about the subject of same-sex marriage?
I am on the Do Not Call Register which is a free service where you can blacklist all unsolicited marketing calls.
Under the Do Not Call Register Act 2006, telemarketers and fax marketers must not contact numbers registered on the Do Not Call Register.
But there are exemptions - only charities, political parties and MPs (of course they put that in the act...) are permitted to contact you in certain circumstances.
On the register's web site, the Australian Communications and Media Authority notes that some Australians may be contacted by phone, email or SMS in relation to the Australian Marriage Law postal survey:
"As part of a healthy democracy, political parties, independent members of parliament, candidates for election, or interest groups (including trade unions) will use a variety of ways to communicate with you. During an election or other period, even if your phone number is on the Do Not Call Register, you may receive calls relating to the election, including calls providing information, polling calls, research calls and calls from parties seeking campaign donations," it reads.
"If the call is only providing campaign or other information and is not trying to sell you something or solicit donations - that is, there is no commercial element - it is allowed to be made, even to numbers on the Do Not Call Register. This includes recorded messages (or what are sometimes called 'robocalls')."
It goes on to say: "If you do not wish to listen to someone talking about political issues, you should hang up the phone."
Well, I have been receiving 8-10 phone calls on average per day from early morning until night. I keep hanging up and their computer keeps calling me.
To me, this is nuisance calling. It is simply harassment.
And do not think for one second that an avalanche of unwelcome phone calls will make me sympathetic to your side of the debate - whether it is 'yes' or 'no'.
I don't need a bloody robot to tell me how to vote.
I don't think most people do.
Especially since this is an emotional issue which is not an election campaign, but a non-binding postal vote.
Besides, I voted three weeks ago. I am not even in the market for your propaganda, which makes these phone calls and texts even more stupid.
It turns out the most important question to me in this debate is when are we ever going to get our privacy back - or are these aggressive robocalls what we can expect every time there is a debate?
Compulsory voting is one thing for a healthy democracy - phone harassment of voters is quite another. And it will not help your case - on the contrary.
Michael J Bailey can be heard weekdays from 5-9am on your radio station 4CC.