Do Not Call


The Federal Trade Commission is out to fix telemarketing with a nationwide do not call list. Even if the thing survives promised court challenges, enough exemptions will exist—for charities, political campaigns, and "existing business relationships"—that your phone will still be ringing off the hook. And we will be spending about $15 million a year for the FTC's registry.

Can't we just stick with civil judgments and violent threats of dismemberment as remedies?

NEXT: The Eyes, the Ears, the Honest Voice of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The reason for the exemptions is court-driven. The Supreme Court has repeatedly protected the rights of charitable groups to solicit free of excessive government regulation. Furthermore, in the Watchtower Bible ruling last term, the Court explicitly overturned a local rule requiring solicitors to register with the mayor before proceeding.

    The alleged difference here is that telemarketers engage in “commercial speech,” which the court has arbitrarily assigned to the First Amendment ghetto as entitled to lesser protection. This gave the FTC their opening to impose the national do-not-call list.

    Elimionate the commercial speech rule, and you take away the FTC’s power to do this sort of thing. It’s as simple as that.

  2. Telemarketers suck. But when did Reason get into the regulation advocacy business?

  3. I highly recommend the following site for anyone seriously annoyed by telemarketers.

    I have had good results by using the script from this page:


  4. When I first heard about this proposal (there’s a similar one in the Michigan State Legislature right now), I felt it was very cynical that charities and ‘political’ organizations were exempt from this. If you do not want to be bothered with solicitations, it should include everyone. I especially winced at the pols exempting the polical organizations that obiously help finance their existence. Personally, I’ve found most telemarketers to be polite and usually very willing to take no for an answer, however I’ve had more than a few experiences where I actually had to be rude to some charitable organization asking for money. One would think that people who are asking for something without providing you some tangible product or service in return should be the politest folks in the world, but apparently the opposite can be the case. Must be that charity work attracts the morally indignant who are impatient with those unwilling to support their causes.

    Anyhow, isn’t any of this more or less unnecessary, given the options of caller ID, the Telezapper, or even using a cheap answering machine to screen your calls? How about not giving out your phone number (or a false number if you have to)? Currently if you ask to be removed from a call list the calling company legally has to take you off. They certainly have no incentive not to do this, since if you’re that irritated with them you’ll probably never buy the product and they would just be wasting their time and money to call you again.

    As it stands, there are already enough private and legal remedies available to anyone seeking to avoid telemarketers.

  5. Oh, and if they do come up with robots hovering outside your window, there probably is some legal precedent on ownership of the airspace around your house. I’m not sure what it is, any property rights lawyers want to take that one?

  6. I’m kind of curious why the “existing remedies” all require the use of my own time time and money to give a telemarketer another .00005% chance of a sale.

    I’m sure the next innovation will be ad robots that hover outside everyone’s window. I can hear the lobbyists now: “Why, you can just close the curtains if you don’t want to be bothered!”

    I finally managed to stop the calls by unplugging the land line phone that I get with my DSL, switching entirely to cell, and giving only my employer and friends my cell number. Every single business I contact gets the unplugged number if they demand one.

    ‘As it stands, there are already enough private and legal remedies available to anyone seeking to avoid telemarketers.’

    Wrong model, I think. What would you say about any another industry that buys off politicans to continue stealing a tiny slice of everyone’s life?

  7. We had “Just Say No” messages crammed down our throats re drugs. Why can’t people just say no to telemarketers – i.e., hang up on them? People should quit expecting the government to protect them from every annoyance in life and show some gumption.

  8. ahh, to prevent further telemarketer contact, just try to start phone sex with them. when she asks you if you want to swicth long distance companies, ask her what color her painties are.

  9. It is unfortunate that the onus is placed on each of us to find a method to avoid the telemarketers. However, last time I checked we don’t have an inalienable right to a telephone or to a telephone that no one we don’t want to talk to ever calls us on. It’s the same logic as seeing things on your TV or in print that you don’t want to see. You voluntarily brought such technology into your home. My point is primarily that even though it is a burden, it’s not a large one and it isn’t one you are morally entitled to not have to deal with on some level.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.