Supreme Court Allows Do-Not-Call Registry to Continue

WASHINGTON D.C. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday let stand a 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that upheld the federal do-not-call registry as a reasonable government attempt to safeguard personal privacy and reduce telemarketing abuse.

The court offered no comment on the decision, which essentially ends efforts by telemarketers to invoke free-speech arguments to get the ban on unwanted phone solicitations thrown out.

Under the federal law, businesses face fines of up to $11,000 if they call people who sign up for the registry unless they have recently done business with them. However, charities, pollsters and callers on behalf of politicians are exempt. Some 57 million phone numbers have been registered to date.

In filing the appeal, telemarketing groups argued that the registry violated First Amendment rights because it singled out businesses while exempting other groups. They also said 2 million of their 6.5 million workers would lose their jobs within two years if the do-not-call rules stand.

A federal judge in Denver agreed with the telemarketers, but the circuit court upheld the registry in February 2004 after concluding there was no evidence suggesting that charitable or political callers were as intrusive to consumers’ privacy.

—Brandweek staff report