The Know Your Caller Act, a bill that would prohibit telemarketers from blocking caller-ID, has been resuscitated at the outset of the current session of Congress.
The act, which the House of Representatives passed unanimously last year, died at the end of the 2000 legislative session when the Senate failed to vote on its version. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-NJ, who sponsored the bill last year, resubmitted the proposal this session.
Frelinghuysen's proposal is nearly identical to the act that came before Congress last year, said Bill Raney, a Kansas City, MO-based teleservices attorney. Like the version passed by the House last year, the legislation would allow states, individuals and the Federal Communications Commission to sue telemarketers for up to $500 per violation.
Telemarketers that cannot transmit caller-ID information because of technological limitations would not be affected. Also, the act would not affect nonprofit organizations, political telemarketing calls or calls made to existing customers.
However, the act would require the FCC to conduct a study of telemarketing technology. The FCC would be required to finish the study in one year and report on how much it would cost to upgrade telemarketing technology so it could transmit caller-ID information.
Raney said it would be difficult to speculate on the act's chance of passage this year. But the unanimous passage of the House version last year may provide some indication, he said.
Frelinghuysen remains optimistic that the legislation would again receive broad support in the House, according to his chief of staff, Donna Mullins. However, a Senate version of the bill has not been proposed this year. Frelinghuysen may wait until the House passes its version before asking allies in the Senate to propose the legislation there, she said.
The telemarketing industry supported the House version of the Know Your Caller Act last year. However, both the Direct Marketing Association and the American Teleservices Association opposed the Senate version.
Last year's Senate version did not exempt telemarketers that could not transmit caller-ID information because of technological limitations. Opponents felt the Senate version would unduly burden telemarketers with expensive technological upgrades to ensure compliance.
Another provision of last year's Senate version that direct marketers opposed would have banned marketers from sending direct mail to those who ask to be placed on do-not-call lists.