ATA Member Goes Against the Grain on DNC Issue

Gryphon Networks, which provides teleservices companies with systems to comply with state-based do-not-call lists, was present at yesterday's ceremonial signing of Texas' DNC list bill.

At first glance, Gryphon's presence at the closed-door ceremony might not seem unusual, except that the company is a member of the American Teleservices Association, which officially opposes state-based DNC lists.

Gryphon provides DNC list compliance in two ways. First, it blocks all outbound calls made by telemarketers to all current state DNC lists. It maintains DNC list data from all states that keep such lists and links to its clients’ call center systems. A teleservices firm that hires Gryphon for DNC list compliance must pay all applicable fees to the states, but need not keep any of the data on its own systems.

Another services is providing compliance with federal DNC list regulations. Agents at call centers equipped with Gryphon’s technology can add consumers to their company’s internal DNC list with a couple of keystrokes, thus simplifying the sometimes-complicated process of responding to consumer DNC requests.

In May, Gryphon president/CEO Keith Fotta participated as a resource witness in the legislative process that led to the passage of Texas' DNC list bill. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Burt Solomons, gained notoriety when he was quoted during a debate as saying that telemarketers would be shot if it were up to him.

In his testimony, Fotta said that while DNC lists have been perceived as too complex, Gryphon’s services made compliance possible. He gave similar testimony in April before the Michigan Legislature.

Solomons and Texas Gov. Rick Perry invited Fotta to the ceremony.

“They like our company,” Fotta said. “They think what we’re doing is good for consumers, good for Texas business and good for the telemarketing industry.”

Gryphon has been active in other states on DNC list issues as well. In Boston, Fotta recently discussed his company’s services during a radio broadcast on telemarketing that included ATA legislative affairs manager Matt Mattingley. The company also issued press releases when Missouri and New York announced violations of their DNC lists earlier this summer. The releases said the violations could have been avoided had the violators employed Gryphon’s services.

All these statements would appear to be at odds with the ATA’s official position on state DNC lists, which holds that federal DNC consumer protections are adequate. ATA spokesman Kevin Brosnahan declined to comment specifically on Gryphon’s agenda.

“Generally, our membership is against state-based do-not-call lists,” Brosnahan said. “Our government affairs committee has always come down against it.”

Fotta said he does not see his company as being at odds with the ATA and, instead, wants to be the industry’s “saving grace.” The overall growth in the number of state DNC lists is a message to the telemarketing industry, he said.

In Florida, which was the first state to sponsor a DNC list, Gryphon’s technology allowing call center agents to register consumers’ DNC requests on their internal lists has been available for three years. Fotta pointed out that in that state, only 140,000 consumers are signed up for the state DNC list.

Giving consumers control over which companies call them satisfies their demands for privacy, Fotta said. Ignoring their privacy demands leads them to sign up for state DNC lists — and once they are on a state DNC list, they are lost to the entire telemarketing industry.

If the industry had embraced his company’s technology when it emerged three years ago, the recent surge in state DNC lists might never have happened, Fotta said. Fotta, who is chairman of the ATA’s technology subcommittee, said the ATA and other groups that opposed state DNC lists are in denial.

“That’s not reality,” he said. “I live in a tech-driven world where there’s an immediate solution to everything.”

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