Column by Bob Goodlatte
Five years ago, the House and Senate came together in a bipartisan fashion to pass the Do Not Call Implementation Act. This important legislation created the Do Not Call Registry and made it illegal for commercial telemarketers to call an individual listed on the registry.
The Do Not Call Registry has been extremely popular. The program, which is managed by the Federal Trade Commission, gives consumers a choice about whether to receive unsolicited sales calls at their home while protecting the constitutional rights of consumers, individuals, and organizations. The law does not include calls related to political issues and candidates. Since its creation, consumers have registered more than 144 million phone numbers with the registry. For this reason, the House and Senate passed two very important pieces of legislation last week that will ensure the extension of this vital program.
When the Do Not Call Implementation Act was originally signed into law, the legislation required the FTC to develop and maintain the Do Not Call Registry and collect fees from telemarketing agencies that need the information to adhere to the law. The fees collected are used to offset the cost of maintaining the registry. Telemarketers are required to search the registry once a month and update their lists accordingly. Any fees collected over and above the cost of the registry are used to offset the FTC’s annual budget.
Last week, the House and the Senate passed important legislation that indefinitely extends the fees that telemarketers are required to pay to fund the registry. By extending these fees, we can make sure the Do Not Call Registry is free for consumers and ensure the registry’s viability well into the future.
Additionally, the House and Senate passed legislation that would bar the FTC from automatically purging millions of phone numbers from the registry. The Do Not Call Implementation Act, which was passed in 2003, required consumers to re-register their phone numbers every five years. The legislation, which is headed to the president’s desk for signature, removes this requirement and ensures that the contents of the Do Not Call registry are made permanent. It also removes the need for the FTC to undertake a costly education campaign to remind Americans to re-enroll their number on the Do Not Call list.
I have long been concerned about the volume of automated telemarketing calls that flood our homes. These unsolicited commercial calls can be a nuisance for many individuals and families. Individuals should have the right to opt out of receiving these calls, and the Do Not Call Registry has made that possible for millions of Americans. If you have not already registered with the Do Not Call program and you wish to, please visit the FTC’s website at www.donotcall.gov.
Bob Goodlatte represents Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the United States Congress. Contact him at www.house.gov/goodlatte/emailbob.htm.