Chief Cushie ~MaryO~ Posted June 27, 2003 Chief Cushie Report Share Posted June 27, 2003 The article is at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn....ptop_tb I signed up for the do not call registry online (of course!) at www.donotcall.gov washingtonpost.com Do-Not-Call Registry to Begin Today Industry Faults FTC on Steps to Block Unwanted Telemarketing By Jonathan Krim Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, June 27, 2003; Page E01 Consumers angry and frustrated over telemarketing calls can take a significant step toward relief today, as the Federal Trade Commission launches a long-awaited nationwide registry for residents who want to block unsolicited advertising via their home and cellular telephones. Under rules announced by FTC Chairman Timothy J. Muris yesterday, residents can list their numbers on the do-not-call registry free. Companies or marketers have until Oct. 1 to remove any registered phone numbers from their calling lists. After that, enforcement will begin. Telemarketers who disregard the registry could face fines as high as $11,000 for each call. Consumers can join the list via the Internet at www.donotcall.gov beginning at 8:30 a.m. After July 7, residents on the East Coast can call a toll-free number (888-382-1222) to join the list. West Coast residents can use the toll-free number today. Commercial telemarketing is covered by the rule except for polling, surveys, and calls from political or charitable organizations. The rules also allow calls from firms with existing business relationships with consumers. Although the FTC does not have jurisdiction over the banking, insurance and telecommunications industries, the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates telephone-based communication, jumped in yesterday and brought its rules into harmony. Consumers who choose not to use the registry can still stop individual telemarketers from calling by insisting that their numbers be removed from telemarketers' call lists. Federal law mandates that the telemarketers abide by the request. More than half the states already offer do-not-call lists of various stripes, and many agreed to transfer their lists to the national database. But in some states, including Virginia, residents will have to register their numbers separately on the national list. Calling it "a great day for American consumers," FTC Chairman Muris said the agency expects the list to grow to as many as 60 million numbers. The agency hired AT&T Corp. to operate a call center to accept registrations and log complaints. Privacy advocates praised the rules and Muris for pushing forward despite stiff resistance from the marketing industry. "Muris should be commended for his skill," said Chris J. Hoofnagle, deputy counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "He was able to negotiate substantial consumer protection . . . surprising in a pro-business administration and Republican Congress." Muris said he was inspired by President Bush, who made clear his interest in personal privacy protections. A ceremony at the White House is planned for today. Marketing industry executives said the rules would cost jobs and pledged to continue legal efforts to block them. "We're not happy about it," said H. Robert Wientzen, president and chief executive of the Direct Marketing Association. "We still feel this is not an appropriate role for government; we would prefer this was a private-sector activity." The marketing trade group and the American Teleservices Association, which represents call-center operators, filed separate suits that are pending. Among other things, they argue that the rules deny marketers their First Amendment rights to free speech. "When you pick which types of calls that can be excluded, then it's the government deciding who's on the other end of the phone," said Tim Searcy, executive director of the Teleservices Association. Wientzen said the telemarketing industry generates roughly $200 billion in sales each year and that it's possible that total could be cut in half. Many of the 4.2 million people who work in the industry, including part-timers, could lose their jobs, he said. His association has maintained for years a working, private-sector equivalent of the national list that has roughly 8 million numbers, he added. But Muris was neither impressed nor sympathetic. "If the leadership of the industry had acted proactively a couple of years ago, they might have been able to head this off," he said. Muris would not predict how quickly the agency could respond when a complaint is lodged against a telemarketer, but he said "we think we can be very quick." Consumers must be able to provide either the name of the company whose product is being pitched, or the name or phone number of the telemarketer. Another rule, which will take effect in January, will prohibit telemarketers from blocking their phone numbers from caller-ID systems. Telemarketers also will be charged fees to help defray an estimated $18 million in costs for building and maintaining the registry and providing enforcement. ? 2003 The Washington Post Company Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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