January 23, 2002
10:26 AM   Subscribe

The Federal Trade Commission is seeking to curtail the activities of telemarketers through the creation of a national 'do-not-call' registry. But the telemarketing industry says the FTC's plan would violate their First Amendment rights.
posted by jjg (20 comments total)
I like the idea of it, indeed, but who's to say that people trust the government any more than they trust Random Telemarketing Company, Inc.?

From the first link: "We think that communication is protected by the constitutional right to free speech."

Communication, yes; advertising, no. In addition, the Constitution guarantees free speech, but says nothing about corporations there that I can see. Corporations aren't people.
posted by hijinx at 10:42 AM on January 23, 2002

If you can't shout Fire in a theatre that is not on fire then you can't call me while my wife is serving me my tv dinner.
posted by Postroad at 10:48 AM on January 23, 2002

Following the second link of the FPP, the Direct Marketing Association's response to an additional proposal is quite telling. The FTC wanted marketers to inform consumers that they have a $50 limit on credit card fraud. But, since many marketers sell fraud protection schemes, they don't want to have to say that. Their response to the FTC was: hey, whattabout the jobs? Yet again, truth is dangerous to business and the national economy. Who cares if it borders on fraud, at least its keeping folks employed.

On the do-not-call registry: If it passes, I'll bet that one profitable approach would be to call folks and say, "You don't like telemarketing calls? We can get you off the telemarketers's lists, for only $10.00." Just make sure you don't tell them they could do it themselves, free.

Think about the jobs, people.
posted by yesster at 10:50 AM on January 23, 2002

My grandma had a big fat metal whistle next to her old phone and would blow it into the receiver right before she said, "don't ever call me again, Satan."

I miss that old whistle.
posted by tsarfan at 10:52 AM on January 23, 2002

From the second article: "Several industries are exempt from the FTC's jurisdiction, including banks and telephone companies."

Well, that just about kills this proposed list's usefulness to me, since about 90% of all the telemarketing calls I get come from these two industries. How annoying.

More annoying, however, is what hijinx brought up, the concept of corporations as being protected by Constitutional right originally intended for indivuduals.

Quick Googling shows that the application of the Constitution towards corporations started in 1886, in the case of Santa Clara County v. the Southern Pacific Railroad Corporation That case allowed for the 14th amendment to be applied to corporations. Their protection under the Constitution has only increased since. I'm sure there are some good webpages out there on the subject, but I couldn't find them in my quick search.

Anyway, I hope the argument that the general public's right to privacy outweighs a corporations right to free speech proves to be a winner. I can't stand the notion that a corporation is somehow deserving of Constitutional protections.
posted by thewittyname at 11:04 AM on January 23, 2002

Before we bash the callers: I telemarketed/surveyed my way through college. Telemarketers are not evil people, they are working for McMinimum wage just like we all have done. For many unskilled laborers who need the money, it's a great second job with flexible hours.

Just politely say no and hang up. Blame the companies methods, not the employees who do their dirty work. OK, back to the topic at hand.
posted by remlapm at 11:13 AM on January 23, 2002

tsarfan: "don't ever call me again, Satan."

I imagined your grandmother was Dana Carvey in a dress. This made it funnier.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:22 AM on January 23, 2002

I ask them to hang on. Then I check in every hour or so. Simulating domestic violence always gets a rise out of them, as well.
posted by adampsyche at 11:31 AM on January 23, 2002

1. Corporations, as noted above, have indeed traditionally been protected under the constitution just as people have. Chief Justice Rehnquist, however, is representative of a growing group that thinks this does not extend to speech protections.

2. Commercial speech is also given less protected status than "core" speech. This category is elastic and variable, however, and while the area is governed by Central Hudson, the law will likely change, in the direction of greater protection for commercial speech.

3. I think that there is a good argument to be made that this restriction is a "time, place or manner" restriction, and as such is subject only to intermediate scrutiny. If so, it is very likely that the FTC would win a legal challenge over the telemarketing industry. Remember, this does not prevent people from advertising, and in no way restricts the content of an advertising message, it only restricts the method by which that message is disseminated.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:38 AM on January 23, 2002

Texas has one now.
posted by jeblis at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2002

According to the article, "about 20 states have adopted do-not-call laws", so search Google to see if your state is one of 'em. (Sadly, Washington State's proposed no-call law was defeated in 2000). Also, here's a Christian Science Monitor article on the state no-call laws.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 12:11 PM on January 23, 2002

Hmm... I guess no one thinks this is a first amendment issue. I certainly don't. I think it's sort of like harassment. I can stand around and yell racial epithets, but I can't follow one person and yell racial epithets at them for hours. Maybe freedom of speech has to protect your right to speak to people "in general", and to talk to specific people who want to hear you. But it doesn't mean you have the right to talk to specific people who don't want to hear you.

You're right about the telephone companies, witty. I always had a semi-joking assumption that they made so many damn telemarketing calls because they could get great deals on phone rates. (Really, I'm not sure that the costs of phoning are that high of a percentage of the total cost.)
posted by Wood at 1:25 PM on January 23, 2002

The Direct Marketing Association has their own do-not-call list.
posted by espada at 1:29 PM on January 23, 2002

Charities and political campaigns would remain exempt from the rules

that sucks. i don't want them calling me either.
posted by tolkhan at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2002

I get a kick out of telling them that I've passed away.
While we're on the topic, I also abhor recruiters, most of who have called me think I'm dead.
posted by Modem Ovary at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2002

You have to invite vampires in your house for them to be able to cross your threshhold. Why should telemarketers have a free pass to sneak in through the telephone lines then?
posted by dness2 at 1:55 PM on January 23, 2002

I never pick on the telemarketers themselves, because most of them are poor slobs who have gotten stuck with such a shitty job where they get heaped with abuse for hours on end.

I would sign up for a list like this in a heartbeat.
posted by briank at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2002

It's hard to realize that they are just poor slobs when they're behaving so mechanically. One time I started telling one about the chili I was making at the time, and it actually struck me that this was an actual human being I was talking to when he replied, "Yeah, that does sound pretty good."

Unfortunately, they probably can't chat for very long without getting in trouble or something... :-(
posted by whatnotever at 2:59 PM on January 23, 2002

I read about the DMA's voluntary opt out list yesterday; one of the DMA spokesmen said that "4 million people had used it." So I found the DMA site, scrounged around till I found the list, and filled out the electronic form.

Turns out, there's a $5 "processing fee" for opting out electronically! You can opt out by mail by printing the electronic form out of your browser and mailing it in, but who really believes the form is cheaper to process by physically than it is electronically? This looks like blackmail to me.

And bad blackmail, at that. It takes months for the election to have an effect on telemarketers' phone lists, and lots of telemarketers probably ignore them anyway.
posted by coelecanth at 3:21 PM on January 23, 2002

The texas one has a small processing fee also, less than $5 though. I don't mind banks and phone companies being exempt, in houston now almost all of the sales calls are recorded machines... it's horrible, and didn't happen where i used to live, so maybe that's coming to a city near you soon :/

also here is the list of states with do not call lists, it's at the bottom, and there is some info about the DMA's one also.
posted by rhyax at 9:26 AM on March 25, 2002

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