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Regulation of the Telemarketing Industry: State and National Do-Not-Call Registries

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Publication Date: October 2003

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL31642

Topic: Business (Markets, marketing, and merchandising)

Abstract:

Until recently, companies that engaged in telephone solicitation or telemarketing were required to maintain a list of consumers who ask not to be called, but there was little or no federal oversight of these lists. Regulations recently promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission create a nationwide do-not-call registry and require telemarketers to begin using the do-notcall lists later this year. In addition to the new national list, thirty-six states have enacted laws that create some type of state-wide do-not-call registry.

This report will discuss current federal regulation of the telemarketing industry, including the new regulations promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, as well as state laws creating do-not-call registries. Legal challenges to the do-not-call registry, including the recent decision by the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma finding that the FTC lacked authority to establish the registry and the decision by the United States District Court for the District of Colorado invalidating the registry on First Amendment grounds, will also be discussed. Also addressed is the federal legislation (S. 1652, S. 1654, S. 1655 and H.R. 3161) aimed at overturning the Oklahoma court's decision, and other relevant legislation (H.R. 395 and H.R. 526). This report will be updated as events warrant.

For additional information on federal telemarketing laws and what consumers can do to prevent unwanted telemarketing calls, see CRS Report RL30763, Telemarketing: Dealing With Unwanted Telemarketing Calls, by James R. Riehl.