Telemarketers sue to stop U.S. do-not-call list

By : |January 30, 2003 0



WASHINGTON: Telemarketers have gone to court in an attempt to stop the U.S. government from setting up a proposed “do not call” list that would help consumers block unwanted sales calls.


Four telemarketing companies and a trade group filed suit in federal court in Oklahoma City to stop the Federal Trade Commission from setting up a program that would allow consumers to place their names on a list of households that do not want to receive such calls.


Telemarketers who ignore the FTC’s list would face fines of up to $11,000. Callers for charities and political groups would be exempt.


The FTC’s proposal, which could be up and running as early as August, has won unprecedented support from consumers who have swamped the agency with more than 50,000 letters of support.


But telemarketers say 27 existing state do-not-call lists and a voluntary national list run by the Direct Marketing Association trade group should provide consumers enough protection.


In the suit, the DMA and four telemarketing firms said the FTC’s effort would violate free-speech laws and discriminate against an industry that provides millions of jobs.


“The FTC is singling out this form of advertising now, what will be next?” said DMA President Robert Weintzen in a prepared statement. The FTC should have waited to move forward with its proposal until the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the telecommunications industry, finishes its reassessment of existing telemarketing rules, the plaintiffs said.


Federal officials say the two agencies have been working closely together to make sure they do not come up with conflicting rules when the FCC finishes its work in the spring.


One privacy advocate said the suit had little chance of success, as federal courts have upheld similar laws banning unsolicited faxes.


“The DMA are plainly going though the motions that they must know will be ineffective simply to placate some of their members,” said Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters Corp., a privacy consulting firm.

© Reuters

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