Alaska calls for Do-Not-Call list

Almost 50,000 Alaskans have asked to be listed on FTC phone registry

Posted: Thursday, October 02, 2003

Alaska is joining other states in urging a federal appeals court to allow the national Do-Not-Call registry to go forward.

The Federal Trade Commission was blocked from operating and enforcing the list last week by U.S. District Judge Edward W. Nottingham in Denver, who said the program violates the free speech rights of telemarketers.

The states, led by the attorneys general in California and Colorado, have joined the FTC in asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to suspend Nottingham's ruling while the agency appeals.

"Nearly 50,000 Alaskans have requested to be part of the national Do Not Call Registry," Renkes said. "We want to be able to protect Alaskans from unrequested sales pitches in their homes."

California State Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar filed the brief, arguing citizens' rights to privacy are at risk without the registry.

In all, 45 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico joined in filing the brief, Renkes' office said.

States' attorney generals said the importance of citizens' right to privacy was made clear by the more than 50 million phone numbers registered on the FTC list, and by how quickly politicians reacted to pass a re-authorizing law after the court ruled.

Delaying the law would also pose a burden on states that have enacted similar protections that rely on the federal registry, they said.

Attorneys representing several telemarketer groups asked the appeals court to reject such a request, saying the court should not allow that agency to enforce the list even though "the FTC may feel a great deal of political pressure after hyping the registry then botching its implementation."

The do-not-call list requires telemarketers to pay for a copy of the list so they can know whom to avoid calling.

Many telemarketers have the list, but some do not and cannot obtain it since the FTC shut down that aspect of the program on Sunday in response to the court ruling.

The national do-not-call list went into effect Wednesday but not without snags as the government scrambled to rework the system a day before it went into effect.

The public was told to file written complaints with the Federal Communications Commission rather than use a dedicated do-not-call Web site and phone number.

The federal court's ruling does not directly impact the continued operation of Alaska's law, but the federal registry would give consumers an additional option for decreasing unwanted calls, Renkes said.

Alaska's "black dot" law allows consumers to request their phone company to place a black dot by their name in telephone directories. It indicates they don't wish to receive solicitations.

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