*Predictive Dialers May Violate TSR

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Privacy advocates told the Federal Trade Commission yesterday that telemarketers' use of predictive dialers violates the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Robert Bullmash, president of Private Citizen Inc., and Jason Catlett, president of Junkbusters Corp., were participating in the opening session of a two-day roundtable that was part of the FTC's review of the TSR. The rule was established in 1995 to address telemarketing fraud and other telemarketing issues. Predictive dialers call phone numbers automatically, then hang up if a telemarketing agent is unavailable. The privacy advocates suggested that predictive dialers could violate the TSR because of the rule's "intent to annoy" provision, and because the rule requires telemarketers to identify themselves. Other matters discussed at the session included the technical limitations of caller-identification services, privacy implications of database mining technologies, and the sharing of bank account numbers with telemarketers.

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