Do-Not-Call List Can Be Enforced, Rules US Court

08 October 2003

The Federal Trade Commission can enforce its do-not-call telemarketing register after a court ruled in its favour.

Last month Judge Edward W Nottingham in Denver, Colorado, declared that the FTC's scheme – with which more than 51 million phone numbers are registered – was unconstitutional and ordered that the register should not be implemented [WAMN: 26-Sep-03].

But a federal appeals court in Denver has suspended this order, concluding that the FTC would likely succeed in overturning Nottingham's ruling.

The judge had argued that the do-not-call list breached the First Amendment since it applied to telemarketers but exempted charities and political parties.

However, the three-judge appeals panel declared that: "The preponderant source of the problem of invasion of privacy and abusive calls are commercial calls, which are covered by the FTC rule. The FTC's justifications of preventing abusive and coercive sales practices and protecting privacy are substantial governmental interests."

The decision means the FTC can enforce the register while it sets about reversing the Nottingham ruling. Telemarketers calling a number on the register face fines of up to $11,000 (€9,307; £6,606) per violation.

FTC chairman Timothy J Muris hailed the appeals court's decision as "an important victory for American consumers." He continued: "We believe the rule fully satisfies the requirements of the US constitution, and we will proceed to implement and enforce the do not call registry."

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff