Citing the First Amendment and the overstepping of legal authority, the two trade bodies representing America’s telemarketers launched a coordinated campaign against the Federal Trade Commission in a bid to overturn its recently introduced ‘do not call’ rules.

For non-US readers, the First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Direct Marketing Association and the American Teleservices Association both invoke the amendment, specifically its references to “freedom of speech” – which they argue includes the right of telemarketers to make unsolicited sales calls on the US public.

According to the available research, the public is markedly less enthusiastic than the telemarketers about this particular freedom, now specifically restricted in certain states, and likely to be extended nationally following the recent decision by the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee to endorse and fund the FTC’s ‘do not call’ register [WAMN: 22-Jan-03].

The committee’s chairman, Representative W J “Billy” Tauzin (Republican, Louisiana), plans to take the legislation to the House floor soon and has exhorted congressional leaders to move quickly so the registry can be implemented this year.

Says Tauzin: “I am, and have always been, a supporter of a national do-not-call list and was pleased to see the Federal Trade Commission advance the idea. We are now one step closer to seeing a national do-not-call registry become a reality.”

The bill provides a five-year authorization for the FTC to charge telemarketers offsetting fees to pay for a registry. If all goes to plan, consumers will begin signing-up in June and telemarketers will gain access to the list in August.

Data sourced from: and Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff