US ‘Don’t Call’ List Set for 2003 Launch after Funds Okayed

22 January 2003

Controversial proposals for a US-wide ‘do not call’ telemarketing register are set to be implemented this year after they cleared the main hurdle to gaining Congressional funding.

The obstacle in question was the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the chairman of which – Representative W J ‘Billy’ Tauzin – recently threatened to block the payout to the Federal Trade Commission needed to create the register infrastructure before 2004 [WAMN: 09-Jan-03].

However, one U-turn later [WAMN: 10-Jan-03], Tauzin is willing to approve $16 million (€15m; £10m) of funds to be granted in an appropriations bill that Congress will pass at the end of this month. His committee heard FTC chairman Timothy J Muris give details of the plan, and no member opposed it.

The $16m will be used to set up a website and a system for running the scheme. If all goes to plan, consumers will begin signing-up in June and telemarketers will gain access to the list in August. The latter will pay to use the register, thereby ensuring ongoing funding.

However, some issues have not been settled. Tauzin’s chief worry is whether the FTC needs an expanded legal remit to operate the register.

“The concern we have is whether this is just going to end up in court, blocked and delayed, if it’s done under the auspices of a statute that isn’t clear,” he said. “We are told that there are lawsuits likely against the FTC on the basis that its authority is limited to abusive and coercive type calls.”

In addition, there are still queries over long-term financing and security, and whether the Federal Communications Commission should enforce the list among companies under its authority but not that of the FTC.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff