By an overwhelming vote of 418 to 7, the House voted yesterday to create a “do not call” registry for people who want to be left alone by telemarketers:
- The House measure would allow the Federal Trade Commission to collect fees from telemarketers to pay for the registry, which would cost about $16 million in its first year.
Separately, lawmakers agreed to retain a deal for this fiscal year that would approve money for the list without additional Senate approval or other legislation, said Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.).
“We have ensured that this sensible consumer-protection registry will become a reality this year,” Hollings said. He helped develop the agreement that allows the FTC to begin building the do-not-call program when the spending bill becomes law.
….The bill has been the focus of intense lobbying by the telemarketing industry and consumer groups.
Telemarketers say the registry would devastate their business and endanger millions of jobs. The Direct Marketing Association, an industry group, sued the FTC last month, claiming that the registry unlawfully restricts free speech.
Consumer groups and many lawmakers say the registry has overwhelming support from the public.
The Bush administration, in a prepared statement before yesterday’s vote, supported the bill and the creation of a registry.
If Congress approves money for this year, the do-not-call list could begin operation by summer.
Consumers could enroll in the free service via the Internet or a toll-free number. Telemarketers would have to check the list every three months to find out who does not want to be called. Those who call listed people could be fined as much as $11,000 for each violation.
Charities, surveys and calls on behalf of politicians would be exempt. [Washington Post]