Congress Reinstates Do-Not-Call List


In response to blocking of the national do-not-call (DNC) registry by a federal judge, the House of Representatives and Senate passed a hastily drafted bill that, if signed by President Bush, will allow the DNC list to take effect Oct. 1.

The House voted 412-8 and the Senate voted 95-0 to adopt the legislation, which was designed to counter a federal court order issued Sept. 24 that barred the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) from launching the DNC provisions. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Lee R. West said the FTC lacked authority to create and operate the registry. West also denied an FTC request to stay his order while the agency files its appeal.

The newly passed bill says the FTC may operate the list, which was approved by Congress last year. The bill could end up on the President’s desk as early as Sept. 26. A Whitehouse spokesman says President Bush will sign the bill when he receives it.

Even if the bill is signed by President Bush, however, it does not automatically nullify the court order. West must still dismiss the case brought by telemarketers in order for the registry to be implemented.

Some legal experts believe the judge will dismiss the case, since his only objection to the list was the question of FTC authority, which was resolved by the most recent legislation.

If or when this hurdle is overcome, the DNC registry will face other legal challenges. The major legal issue that has yet to be resolved involves telemarketing companies’ First Amendment right to free speech.

The FTC expects the DNC list will block 80 percent of telemarketing calls. Although extremely popular with consumers, the registry would devastate telemarketing companies, as well as negatively impact businesses that depend on telemarketing services.

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