NY Bill Proposes No-Mail, No-E-Mail List

In a sign that the telemarketing no-call registry concept may be spilling over to other media, a New York state legislator has proposed the creation of a no-mail and no-e-mail list.

Assembly Bill 1292, proposed by Republican Assemblyman David McDonough, may be evidence that legislators are growing bolder after the success of many no-call registries.

Charities and mailings to people with whom a company has an existing relationship would be exempt. The bill would levy fines of $2,000 per violation.

Calls to McDonough's office were not returned. In a written justification that accompanied the bill, the bill's authors noted that New York households receive an average of 900 pieces of bulk mail annually, weighing 50 pounds on average, and that bulk mail made up about 500,000 tons of solid waste in New York in 2002.

The bill would give consumers a choice of stopping bulk mail and would reduce solid waste, the authors wrote.

A spokesman for the New York Consumer Protection Board, which would maintain the registry, said the agency had yet to analyze the bill and could not comment.

Louis Mastria, spokesman for the Direct Marketing Association, dismissed the legislation as a “publicity stunt.” He cited potential First Amendment problems, just as the DMA and American Teleservices Association have challenged the Federal Trade Commission's national no-call registry on free-speech grounds.

He noted that consumers already have ways to stop unwanted commercial mail, including a private list maintained by the DMA that its members use.

“A bill like this is a solution seeking a problem,” he said. “There is no problem.”

Privately, state government sources said the bill is unlikely to pass because Democrats have the majority in the state Assembly. However, telemarketing no-call lists have proven capable of obtaining bipartisan support in state legislatures.

In Missouri and Colorado, lawmakers have proposed do-not-spam lists as a way for state law enforcers and citizens to take legal action against those who send unsolicited commercial e-mails. But Mastria said he doesn't foresee lawmakers taking a cue from the success of no-call registries and applying the idea to other marketing channels.

“It may be just political grandstanding,” he said of the New York bill. “It's just a way to get notoriety and headlines.”

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