By Anne Burt
A new federal act creating a national do-not-call list will fine unwanted telemarketing calls up to $11,000 by October.
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act, sponsored by Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., was passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and passed in the U.S. House of Representatives with a 418-7 vote late last week.
Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, voted against the do-not-call act.
“A do not call list is something states can do and are doing,” Bishop said. “I felt it was stupid to spend millions of dollars on programs states and individuals can do themselves.”
Bishop said he realized he was going to stand out, but he couldn”t see a compelling reason to unnecessarily involve the federal government.
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act is anticipated to be implemented within seven months, according to the Federal Trade Commission Web site. If a person on the list is contacted by a telemarketer, the telemarketing company can be fined up to $11,000. The money collected through violation of the do-not-call list will be used toward funding the program.
The implementation of the list is expected to cost $16 million, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., said to the U.S. House of Representatives. Eshoo, a defender of the do-not-call list, said 16 billion telemarketing calls were made each year, generating $300 billion in sales and employing 6 million people. In past years, 12 million households joined do-not-call lists in 27 states.
The American Civil Liberties Union supports a no-call-list because both parties win, said Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the ACLU in Washington D.C.
” They (solicitors) are still able to call,” Johnson said. “They are not prohibited unless someone says ”do not call me.””
Johnson cited the 1965 U.S. Supreme Court case of Lamont v. Postmaster General as a guide for solicitations. The Supreme Court ruled it was constitutional for a person to block mail solicitations by filing with the U.S. Postmaster, Johnson said.
“Essentially what the Supreme Court said was ”you may have a right to speak, but you don”t have a right to force your opinion on someone else,”” Johnson said.
Congressman Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said in a news release that the list protects consumers from unwanted calls.
“During dinners, family meetings and at bedtimes, telemarketers call and interrupt our lives,” Cannon said. “Although many people ask telemarketers not to call back, still often they still do.”
Bishop said he was unimpressed with the reasons for the do-not-call list.
“No one talked about anything except the right to have dinner without being interrupted,” Bishop said. “I don”t remember that right being in the Constitution.”
Tim Stay, president of Marketing Ally Inc. in Provo, said he realizes having a national do-not-call list will restrict his business in some ways, but he is confident it won”t be the end for telemarketers.
“Some people feel they are able to find valuable and worthwhile service through telemarketing,” Stay said. “Everyone — from BYU, to newspapers, to political campaigns, to financial institutions — utilizes telemarketing as a tool. I don”t think this legislation will kill that.”
Stay said he is willing to follow the do-not-call list.
“We are not wanting to call someone who doesn”t want to be called,” Stay said. “It is unproductive for us and annoying for them.”
BYU students make up 80 percent of Stay”s 11-year-old business.
Stay said he doesn”t believe the list will affect the employment of students, who have been the benefactors of nearly 32 million dollars pumped into the Provo economy by his company in the last 11 years.
The national do-not-call list will not affect calls from charitable organizations seeking donations or giving free material, telephone survey research, companies that have established business relationships with consumers, and political fundraising campaigns. However, if a person requests not to be called again, the organization can be fined up to $11,000 if it does not honor the request.
“When I found out political parties were exempt from the law, it (the list) became even more hypocritical,” Bishop said.
Placing a name on the national list is free of charge by registering on the FTC Web site or calling a toll-free number. Once a household puts its number on the list, the name will remain in the database for five years. The household can reregister for free.
The Do-Not-Call Implementation Act also requires telemarketers to have a name and phone number visible on caller identification.
From 2003 to 2007, the FTC and Federal Communications Commission will submit an annual report to various committees in the U.S. House and Senate, giving information about the effectiveness of the do-not-call list, the number of consumers who have put their names on the list and the number of persons paying for access to the registry.
To learn more about the do-not-call list visit http://www.ftc.gov/donotcall/