FTC Denies DM News' Request for DNC Access Names

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The Federal Trade Commission has denied a Freedom of Information Act request by DM News for the names of all entities that have accessed the national no-call registry since its inception. DM News will file an administrative appeal of the decision.

In a letter to DM News, FTC attorney Joan Fina said some of the requested names belonged to telemarketers working from home. Because those names constitute personal information, they are exempt from the FOIA, she wrote. In addition, Fina denied DM News' request to provide the names, but black out or remove names it considered "personal information."

DM News filed the request in July as part of a series of stories that ran earlier this month examining the impact of the registry a year after its launch.

Telemarketers opposed the FTC's increase in the fee for accessing the no-call list that took effect Sept. 1. The FTC has said the increase was necessary because more telemarketers qualified for free access than expected.

Some telemarketers have speculated that members of the industry have falsely registered for free access. Others have suggested that individual agents of national companies -- such as real estate or insurance agents -- have downloaded a small portion of the list and thus qualified for free access, enabling their parent companies to avoid paying the fee. An FTC official has said this practice is legal.

Telemarketers who download five area codes or less pay no access fees. Non-profits that voluntarily use the no-call list also qualify for free access.

In December, the American Teleservices Association filed a FOIA request similar to the one filed by DM News. The FTC first told the ATA the request would cost $1.13 million to process, but later reversed its position and denied the request entirely.

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