In what may be the most swiftly enacted non-emergency legislation to pass through Congress, President George W Bush on Monday signed a bill authorizing the Federal Trade Commission to enforce its national 'do-not-call' register.

The bill became law just five days after Judge Lee R West, sitting in Oklahoma City, ruled the FTC had no legal authority to impose the ‘don’t call’ register on telemarketers [WAMN: 25-Sep-03].

FTC chairman Timothy Muris said the agency would enforce restrictions on unwanted telephone solicitations as of tomorrow, October 1. The Federal Communications Commission revealed it too would impose the rules on those telemarketers that had obtained the 'do-not-call' list from its sister agency.

Although the US outbound telemarketing industry has lost a key battle, the war is far from over. On Monday the American Teleservices Association petitioned the Supreme Court for an emergency stay to prevent the FCC from implementing the new regulations Wednesday. Although the stay was refused, the petition remains on the books and a full hearing will be held in due course.

The president's smile for the photographers as he signed the bill may be been more of a rictus, according to the New York Times. He is not known for his enthusiasm to regulate big business.

But, explains the NYT, his political strategists advised him to grin and bear it in the face of overwhelming public support for the bill. Around fifty million Americans have placed their names on the register since July and a presidential election looms just thirteen months hence.

"While many good people work in the telemarketing industry," said the Prez, "the public is understandably losing patience with these unwanted phone calls, unwanted intrusions. And given a choice, Americans prefer not to receive random sales pitches at all hours of the day."

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