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My question is, will they enforce it?

From the New York Times, copied and preserved behind the lj-cut tag for posterity.

National Registry for Blocking Telemarketer Calls Begins

WASHINGTON, June 26 — A national do-not-call registry will open Friday for anyone who wants to block sales calls.

Officials at the registry also announced a number of new regulations today, including a requirement that telemarketers transmit their telephone numbers to caller-ID devices and that they have a live operator on the line within two seconds of the consumer's picking up the phone.

The telemarketing regulations — a coordinated effort of the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission — are a response to consumer frustration over telemarketing calls. Consumers receive five times the telemarketing calls today they did a decade ago, the communications commission said.

"We saw the technology had changed, the volume of calls to consumers had increased," said K. Dane Snowden, head of the F.C.C.'s consumer and governmental affairs bureau. "We have given consumers the tools to manage the calls to their homes."

The communications commission met today and voted on the added regulations. The trade commission has been planning for weeks to establish the national do-not-call registry. And a White House ceremony has been planned for Friday morning to announce the start of the registry.

Online registration will be available at www.donotcall.gov, officials said. The trade commission has staggered phone registration to handle the large volume of calls expected. Residents of states west of the Mississippi, including Minnesota and Louisiana, may register by phone starting Friday at 12:01 a.m.. The entire country will be able to register by phone as of July 7. The phone number is (888) 382-1222. The registry will go into effect Oct. 1.

Calls from politicians and religious and charitable organizations are exempt from the registry. Because federal oversight of the insurance industry is curtailed, some companies will also be able to make calls, depending on the state.

A phone number will stay in the registry for five years, until it has been disconnected or until a consumer willingly deletes it from the registry. In addition, the regulations have set new limits for how long a company can call a customer — 18 months after the last business transaction or 3 months after an inquiry.

Marketers will be charged $7,250 for access to the complete national list, though they can get numbers for five area codes free.

The law requires telemarketers, who face a maximum penalty of $11,000 for each call violation, to synchronize their database with the F.T.C. every three months. The commission estimates 60 million phone numbers will be registered in the first year, with 14 million coming from do-not-call lists of the states.

There are approximately 160 million residential phone numbers in the United States, according to the trade commission. Of the 27 states with do-not-call lists, only 13 — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota and Oklahoma — will pass on their lists to the national registry, encompassing more than eight million numbers.

Three additional states — New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania, with a total of 5.5 million numbers — are considering legislation to share their lists with the federal government.

The American Teleservices Association has objected to the restrictions, saying that 2 million of the country's 6.4 million call-center jobs will be lost.

The organization has sued the trade commission, contending that the national registry violates the right to commercial free speech.

"This law has been the clear example of violating the First Amendment," said Tim Searcy, head of the telemarketing association. "They are picking by speaker and by content what they consider to be legitimate speech. They exempt a whole bunch of existing speech: insurance, politicians, marketing research and charities. A ringing phone is a ringing phone."

The F.T.C. disagrees. "When the commission was promulgating this rule, it paid very careful attention to the statutory and constitutional limitations of jurisdiction and authority," said Eileen Harrington, director for marketing practices at the agency. "We are confident that these rules as issued by the F.T.C. will be upheld because they fall squarely within well-settled legal principles."

While the telemarketing industry and states have organized scattered do-not-call lists for a number of years, this is the first comprehensive registry for the entire nation.

Robert Wientzen, the president of the Direct Marketing Association, applauded the simplicity of maintaining a single list, but objected to government regulation. "We are not happy that the government feels this is a government role," he said.

Now, I am not a fan of big government, not at all, but I can't help but feel a sense of relief at this. The invasion of privacy that we've seen personally -- we literally don't pick up the phone, we screen everything, because we assume it's a telemarketer. And us having to modify our lifestyle just for having a service that we pay to use, the telephone -- well, we're not paying to get telemarketer calls. There had to be some means of selection, since marketers no longer show any respect. I support free speech, but this seems to qualify as abuse. It's not free speech -- it's harassment. It's not free at all: WE, the consumers, are paying for the phone call, so they are using our dime in an unauthorized fashion.

There's an old saying: "your right to freedom ends where my nose begins." In this case, it's where my ear (and wallet) begins.


Twin Peaks: Snoqualmie

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