FTC Vows Not To Expire Numbers From The Do Not Call List

The FTC will vow in Congressional testimony today not to purge numbers on the Do Not Call List while Congress considers making registrations permanent. Do Not Call registrations currently last for five years, and are set to start expiring in April 2008 despite the list’s broad popularity: 92% of Americans have heard of the list, 76% have added their number, and 92% claim to receive fewer calls marketing calls. Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, appearing before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hail the list for ‘restoring the sanctity of the American dinner hour.’

The FTC’s promise, after the jump.

The Commission adopted the five-year re-registration requirement based on the information it had in 2003. Since then, several changes have taken place. First, changes in the marketplace, including increased usage of cell phones and increased popularity of telephone number portability, may have had an impact on data underlying the 2003 rulemaking proceeding. Second, the legal landscape has become clearer because we have more information about how courts view consumers’ privacy in this context. Third, the Registry has been implemented successfully for nearly 5 years, and has included a scrubbing program through which telephone numbers that have been disconnected and reassigned are purged from the Registry on a monthly basis. Fourth, the Registry has enjoyed unprecedented popularity and helped enhance the privacy of the American public in a tangible way.

As a result of these changes, the Commission now commits that it will not drop any telephone numbers from the Registry based on the five-year expiration period pending final Congressional or agency action on whether to make registration permanent. The Commission will continue its robust efforts to maintain the Registry’s accuracy and ensuring the continued success of the Do Not Call program.

The Subcommittee is meeting this morning to markup H.R. 2601, which would reauthorize the Do Not Call List through 2012. The bill does not yet include language from H.R. 3541 to make registrations permanent, but the Subcommittee could add such language during the markup, or the full Energy and Commerce Committee could separately take up the bill when it meets on Thursday.

The FTC’s announcement is an undeniable victory for consumers, one that will hopefully push Congress to make Do Not Call registrations permanent.

S. 2096 [GovTrack]
H.R. 3541 [GovTrack]
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(Photo: Eduardo Mendes (Smile=P))