New FTC Chair Wants National DNC List

A national do-not-call list is part of new Federal Trade Commission chairman Timothy Muris' agenda for privacy in America.

Muris proposed adding a national DNC list to the FTC's Telephone Sales Rule during his speech at a privacy conference yesterday in Cleveland. The FTC chairman said the nation could “do better” than the current system of relying on the Direct Marketing Association's Telephone Preference Service or allowing consumers to ask individual companies not to call.

“I am recommending an amendment to our Telemarketing Sales Rule that would develop a national, one-stop, do-not-call list,” Muris said. “We will also explore giving consumers a middle option, for instance, one that would allow calls, but further limit when calls can be made.”

Muris said a national DNC list would address significant consumer concerns about telemarketing abuses. However, Muris stressed that the creation of new FTC rules takes time and that he would carefully consider the evidence presented.

In the meantime, the FTC will step up its enforcement of existing telemarketing regulations, Muris said. In particular, the FTC will expand beyond its current focus of halting telemarketing fraud and step up enforcement of “nuisance” regulations, such as those governing allowed calling hours, the use of harassing calling patterns and failure to disclose identities.

In its response to Muris' comments, the DMA said only that it “will also work diligently with chairman Muris to study the potential negative impact of the federal government entering into areas like telephone preference services.” The DMA has run its national Telephone Preference Service for more than 15 years.

In June, a DMA official said the organization was contemplating the creation of an all-inclusive DNC list, in which it would package together the names on the Telephone Preference Service list with every state list, for use by its members.

The American Teleservices Association has always been opposed to a national DNC list, said Bill Miklas, ATA chairman. Not having heard the speech, Miklas declined to comment directly on Muris' comments, but he said the ATA's position is that a national DNC list would be redundant because of the existence of the Telephone Preference Service, which is a free service provided by the industry.

“We think that it's been proven effective in giving the general population a vehicle to get its name removed,” Miklas said.

One question that remains is whether a national DNC list would pre-empt state lists, Miklas said. Unless this is the case, a national DNC list would not necessarily make life less complicated for telemarketers, he added.

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