As the calls reported on today seem not to fall within the political communication exception- not coming from any recognised political party, candidate or candidate for election- each call complained of could potentially attract an individual criminal conviction and fine. Only calls which prompt a complaint can attract any conviction.
Complaints to the Data Protection Commissioner can be made on-line for free.
A number of people have complained after receiving unsolicited calls regarding abortion in Ireland tonight. The calls, which were first mentioned on Twitter earlier this evening, claim to quote Eamon O’Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway. The call goes on to say that Irish doctors do not put mothers’ lives at risk and mentions the “tragic loss of a young woman in Galway”, alluding to the case of Savita Halappanavar.
It says that Ireland’s abortion ban does not stop doctors from saving women’s lives and that Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby. When the number 01-4402522 is called, it also asks the person receiving the message to leave a message on “whether we should continue to protect mother and child under our current pro-life laws, or legislate for abortion based under the British model or any thoughts you have if you are unsure”. People who received the phone calls claim they were asked to press numbers to vote on different subjects.
Listen to the call here
One user of Twitter advised those who received calls ” should notify the DPC. Use of autodiallers is governed under SI336.” The Data Protection Commissioner’s website can be found here.
The calls come after an estimated two thousand people protested outside of The Dáil tonight calling for legislation on abortion in Ireland following the case of Savita Halappanavar.
REPORTS HAVE BEEN appearing online of automated calls being made to Irish phones on the topic of abortion.
The call, from a Dublin number, says it has a message from a medical and obstetrics expert saying that Irish doctors do not put mothers’ lives at risk and are always obliged to intervene to save mothers’ lives, even if that results in the unfortunate death of an unborn child.
The message also mentions the tragic loss of a young woman in Galway – although it does not mention Savita Halappanavar by name – and follows that by saying “claims that doctors cannot intervene to save mothers who are in danger is untrue”.
It says that the ban on abortion does not prevent doctors acting to save women’s lives, and Ireland is one of the safest places in the world to have a baby. According to people who have received the call, the pre-recorded message asks the person answering the call to press a button to give an indication of their views on abortion in Ireland.
When the phone number is rung, people are invited to leave their thoughts on “whether we should continue to protect mother and child under our current pro-life laws, or legislate for abortion based under the British model or [leave] any thoughts you have if you are unsure”.
A number of Twitter users said they have received a similar unsolicited call, with one user saying her landline number was unlisted.