Money & Power

A Futuristic Nightmare: Anonymous, Automated Political Calls Target Women in Maryland’s Sixth District

0 Written by: | Tuesday, Mar 20, 2012 11:23am

There is only one robocall I receive on a regular basis, and I love it. I answer the phone, and halfway through my “hello” a foghorn blasts in my ear. Then a cheery voices says something like “All aboard!” or “The captain’s calling!” and it offers me some kind of cruise. The timing of the foghorn is perfect, and it gets funnier to me every time.

Recently, women in Maryland’s sixth district have been targeted by a less enjoyable robocall, one that demands that receivers of the call demand that U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett demand that Rush Limbaugh end his “war on women.”

Now, I never listen to the cruise message all the way through, but if it’s legal it includes an “authority line” at the end of the message naming the group responsible for the call and how to get in touch with them. The anti-Rush call is credited only to “women of the 99 percent” — not the name of any official group — which makes it illegal. Trouble is, it’s hard to know who to blame for an anonymous call. The number apparently doesn’t show up on caller ID, and MoveOn.org, who endorses Roscoe’s opponent State Sen. Rob Garagiola, denies making the call.

It’s almost too scary to suggest, but has anyone investigated the possibility that perhaps the machines have gained sentience and that these anonymous political robocalls are being made by the robots themselves? Is this what the dystopian future looks like? A topsy-turvy world where man is politically harassed by machine?

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