Washington/Denver, Oct. 8 (Reuters): Telemarketers may not dial the 51 million phone numbers on the national “do not call” registry while a US appeals court decides whether their free-speech rights are being violated, the court said yesterday.
The decision clears the way for the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the popular anti-telemarketing programme, which had been thrown into legal limbo by a lower court decision days before it was to take effect.
The legal status of the list is still not resolved as the US Court of Appeals in Denver must determine whether it unconstitutionally discriminates between commercial and charitable calls, which are not subject to the no-call rule.
But until then, the FTC will be able to fine telemarketers up to $11,000 for each time they call numbers on the list. Consumers will be able to sign up if they have not yet done so, and thousands of telemarketing companies that still do not have the list will be able to purchase a copy.
In its decision, a three-judge panel said the privacy interests of millions of Americans outweigh the economic harm that telemarketers would likely suffer. “We conclude that the public does have strong privacy and expectation interests that weigh in favour of granting this stay pending review of the merits.”