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'Do not call' list blocked by federal court in Oklahoma

November 23, 2010
Ruling just one week before its implementation, a federal judge in Oklahoma blocked the national "do not call" list from taking effect Oct. 1, contending the Federal Trade Commission overstepped its authority when it set up the list. Telemarketers praised the reprieve. At this newsletter's deadline, it was unclear when-or if-the "do not call" registry would be implemented. The Direct Marketing Association sued to block the list shortly after Congress approved it in January, saying it would violate freespeech laws and discriminate against an industry that provides millions of jobs. "The Association and its fellow plaintiffs are grateful that the (court) understoodand upheld the industry's belief that the FTC does not have authority to implement and enforce a national donot- call list," the trade group said in a press release. Lawmakers criticized the court's decision, arguing that they had given the FTC the authority to implement the list. The list would allow consumers to stop most unwanted telephone sales calls. The FTC had signed up some 50 million phone numbers for the list. Under the FTC's amended Telemarketing Sales Rule to take effect Oct. 1, businesses could call only customers who (1) have provided written consent in advance of any call, (2) have made a purchase within the last 18 months, or (3) have contacted the business with an inquiry in the past 90 days. Telemarketers still must properly identify themselves as a seller and explain that they are making a sales call  before pitching a product or service. "I think in the next couple of days," said Paul Metrey, with the NADA's legal department, "we will likely see legislation-that will be passed by an overwhelming majority of both houses- expressly granting the FTC authority to create and implement the do-not-call registry. "The court of appeals also may overturn the ruling. Further, the decision does not affect the FCC's adoption of the FTC's do-not-call rules and the Oct. 1 compliance date. "Hence, when all is said and done, I think it is quite likely that the do-not-call requirements will kick in at or near the Oct. 1 deadline."