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A robo-call is an automated phone call that does not involve a human caller. The majority of these are uninvited solicitations (either for money or votes), and these are the ones I'm asking about. Robo-calls, being automated, are much less expensive for an organization to make than conventional calls, and are impossible for recipients to respond to. (Like spam but for your phone rather than your email inbox.)

Does halacha permit making unsolicited robo-calls? (I'm not talking about services you signed up for, like a weekly eiruv-status message, but calls that you did not invite.) Are such calls perhaps theft of the recipient's time and possibly voice-mail capacity or cell-phone minutes? (An unwanted in-person call could be too, but if a person calls the recipient can tell the caller not to call again, and in the US the caller has to comply. If there is no human on the line then this option is not available.)

Lately I have begun to receive unsolicited and unwanted robo-calls from Jewish organizations, which came as a surprise to me, hence this question.

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I get robo-called by the Rov in my community every week with communal events and minyan/zmanim times. I could probably get myself removed if I really wanted to, though. –  HodofHod Feb 20 '12 at 14:15
    
@HodofHod, did you sign up for that? –  Monica Cellio Feb 20 '12 at 14:16
    
Not that I know of. I suppose it could have been someone else in my home, but judging by their disinterest, I doubt it. –  HodofHod Feb 20 '12 at 14:19
    
Somewhat related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/4 –  Isaac Moses Feb 20 '12 at 14:47
    
Re "the recipient can tell the caller not to call again, and in the US the caller has to comply. If there is no human on the line then this option is not available", see e.g. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robocalls#United_States_restrictions –  msh210 Feb 20 '12 at 18:28

2 Answers 2

I do not see anything halachically wrong with this. As long as they are not making calls on Shabbat, this is just a simple use of technology available.

A comparison: Are you allowed to send out automated mail? Most people do not enjoy receiving junk mail, yet no one sees anything halachically wrong with it.

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Hi Michael Levitt! I'm glad you don't see anything wrong with it, but since none of us know who you are, that isn't really worth much to us. Are you sure no one sees anything wrong with sending out automated mail? Note also that mail is free to receive whereas in some countries receiving a cell phone call uses up one's quota of minutes. –  Double AA Dec 25 '12 at 21:47

It may not be permitted in many cases, since it can be illegal, annoying and a chilul hashem.

If one signed up for the Do Not Call Registry, it is illegal to be contacted by a regular company. If it is illegal, it falls under dina dmalchusa dina according to many opinions. If Jewish organizations break the law, this can cause a chilul hashem. Also, its clearly wrong to contact people who specifically said they don't want to be called.

However, non-profit organizations may not be bound by the law, so that leaves the other reason: Its annoying, which is a violation of "v'ahavta lreacha kamocha" and especially Hillel's formulation of it (If you find something annoying, don't do it to others).

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