UPDATE: California, Texas Propose DNC Lists

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Lawmakers in California and Texas, the nation's two most populous states, are seeking to join New York and Florida, the third and fourth most populous states, in passing do-not-call list laws.

Those four states have 85 million residents combined. Nine other states also have adopted DNC list legislation.

Some of the provisions of DNC list regulations -- including those that have been proposed in California and Texas and those that have already become law in New York and Florida -- include:

• In California, state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont, proposed a bill Jan. 4 that would require an unspecified agency to maintain a DNC list available to companies for an unspecified fee. It would allow consumers to sue violators for up to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.

• In Texas, state Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, proposed a bill Jan. 5 that would create a DNC list available to telemarketers for $75. Consumers would pay $3 to be listed for three years. The list would be updated quarterly, and enforcement would be the responsibility of the state attorney general, who could seek fines of $500 for a first offense and up to $1,500 for subsequent offenses.

• In New York, free DNC list registration became available to the public in October. The list will become active in April.

• In Florida, which was the first state to pass a DNC list law, registration is available for a $10 fee.

The American Teleservices Association opposes DNC list proposals because of its concern that a multitude of state DNC lists would make business too complicated for telemarketers.

Consumers can request placement on telemarketing companies' DNC lists. Individuals also can eliminate many telemarketing calls by registering for the Direct Marketing Association's Telephone Preference Service, a DNC list commonly cited by industry representatives as an alternative to state lists.

Solomons said, however, that the DMA's list does not adequately protect the privacy of individuals and that telemarketers have only themselves to blame for the proliferation of state DNC lists because the industry opposed efforts to create a nationwide list. He also said the federal government's failure to act, along with the increasing volume of telemarketing calls, is forcing state legislatures to take measures of their own.

The Texas bill also would ban the blocking of caller-ID by telemarketers, a provision similar to the proposed federal Know Your Caller Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives but was never considered by the full Senate. The Senate version of the federal legislation concerned telemarketers since it did not exempt firms whose telephone numbers could not be displayed on caller-ID because of technological reasons.

Solomons' bill, however, bans only the active blocking of caller-ID and makes an exception for telemarketers that cannot display their numbers on caller-ID.

The Texas bill also requires fax telemarketers to include their name and address on the cover page of all documents they send. Fax telemarketers also would have to provide a toll-free or local number that consumers who receive fax solicitations can call between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. Federal law permits only opt-in fax telemarketing.
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