House Subcommittee Holds Hearings on Telemarketing Bills

A subcommittee of the U.S. House Commerce Committee held initial hearings yesterday on HR 3180 and HR 3100, which seek to impose restrictions on telemarketing.

Both bills were introduced last October.

Steve Brubaker of InfoCision Management Corp., testifying on behalf of the American Teleservices Association, told the Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade and Consumer Protection that HR 3180, the so-called “Dinnertime Calling Bill,” would not decrease the volume of telemarketing calls that consumers would receive. Instead, he said that the law, which would make it illegal for telemarketers to call residences between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., would simply give free reign to the telemarketing organizations, such as charities and political groups, that were exempt from the law.

Rep. Matt Salmon, R-AZ, who introduced HR 3180, and Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ, who introduced HR 3100, both testified in support of their respective bills. HR 3100, the “Know Your Caller Act,” is a bill written specifically to require that telemarketers do not interfere with the ability of caller-ID systems to detect the name and number of the caller. HR 3180 contains similar wording.

Brubaker testified that current call center technology and caller-ID technology are not compatible. He asked that the bill be worded so that it addresses only those telemarketers that actively seek to block their identities from consumers.

Kevin Brosnahan, an ATA spokesman, said the ATA would monitor the bills to try to prevent legislators from inserting language that penalized telemarketers who used automatic dialers.

The future of the bills is largely under the control of Rep. Billy Tauzin, who chairs the subcommittee. It was not immediately known what Tauzin’s position was on the bill, but a spokesman for his office said last year that he did not place a high priority on HR 3180.

Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers reportedly grilled Brubaker about his company's work on some controversial Republican telemarketing fundraisers.

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