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Away From Home

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Do-Not-Call lists under attack?

EPIC warns that state do-not-call lists are under attack:

They're back. Or they might be, those pesky telemarketing calls, after nearly two years of peaceful, interruption-free dinners. That's the warning a consumer protection group is about to issue.

Legal wrangling threatens to disrupt that dinnertime quiet, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which plans to present its concerns to the Federal Communications Commission later this month. Telemarketing groups are quietly mounting a campaign that would open the door to a floodgate of new calls, EPIC says, pointing to a series of requests filed with the FCC, essentially asking the agency to invalidate state laws regulating the practice.

Telemarketers deny they are trying to pry open the door to a wave of new calls. Industry representatives contend they simply want a single, national rule to follow.

. . .

A favorable ruling would open the door for a fresh round of telemarketing calls, EPIC says.

"The phone is going to start ringing off the hook," said EPIC's Chris Hoofnagle. "What we're talking about here is an exception that allows telemarketers to call people who are on the Do Not Call list."

. . .

But Bill Raney, a telecommunications lawyer who defends companies against Do Not Call lawsuits, said laws in places like Indiana and Florida are not preventing such calls in the 45 states where they are not banned. And consumers are not complaining about them, said Raney, who represents The Sports Authority, which has asked the FCC to
pre-empt Florida's law prohibiting computer-dialed calls.

"There is no evidence that (a favorable FCC ruling) will lead to large increases in telemarketing calls," he said.

Raney said telemarketing firms need a uniform standard to follow. Implementing rules from 50 different states is costly and unfair, he said. His law firm, Copilevitz & Canter, also represents the ad-hoc alliance which has appealed to the FCC for pre-emption. In that petition, the group describes complicated and varied state laws. In Louisiana, for example, telemarketing calls are illegal on Acadian Day and Huey P. Long day.

"A patchwork quilt is not a good idea," Raney said. "The FCC needs to say to the states, 'This is the standard with regard to national telemarketing calls.' "

Before I take a stance, I want to know -- what do you think? Should there be one single, unified standard? Or should states be free to develop their own rules?


  • I think the states should be free to make their own standards. A national rule would be nice, but it could also be problematic. I know that even though my number is on the Do-Not-Call list, I still get calls from credit card companies. Actually...I just got done harrassing some poor guy after I got calls every night for over a week from some credit card company, offering me a card. After asking twice to be removed from their call list, the next call I got I asked simply to 'speak with your supervisor' and then to 'speak with your supervisor' until I got told that the person above was not available (about three people and thirty minutes later). I then proceeded to inform the guy I was speaking with that I'd had calls from them every night for over a week, and I'd asked their reps twice to remove me from the call list, and if I received another call, I'd be calling a lawyer about a harrassment suit. I made sure to get the guy's name, as well as a corporate address and telephone number. It's been two weeks, and I've not gotten another call...

    By Blogger Mela, at 7/21/2005 09:39:00 AM  

  • When it comes down to it, Mela, your problem isn't with a national or a state list -- your problem is with enforcement. Assuming that the law will be strictly enforced, would you prefer one national standard, or should states be free to set their own?

    By Blogger Scott, at 7/21/2005 06:55:00 PM  

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