The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) amended its rules yesterday to permanently honor registrations with the government's "Do Not Call" registry, bringing its rules into compliance with a law enacted by Congress earlier this year.
The new rule "prohibits the removal of numbers from the Registry unless the consumer cancels the registration or the number has been disconnected and reassigned or is otherwise invalid," the agency said in a statement.
FCC chairman Kevin Martin said that "The order we adopt ensures that consumers registered with the National Do Not Call Registry maintain the privacy they expect and deserve."
Previously, registration with the "Do Not Call" list only lasted for five years, forcing them to re-register or risk a renewed onslaught of unwanted calls from telemarketers or solicitors.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the agency charged with directly overseeing the registry, had initially said it would require consumers to re-register when their initial registrations expired, but later backtracked and committed to keeping registrations permanent. The FTC also regularly "scrubs" the list of invalid or disconnected numbers.
Congress passed the "Do Not Call Improvement Act of 2007" earlier this year, which barred removal of any number from the registry unless it was invalid or disconnected, or the number's owner specifically requested such. Legislation was passed that also empowered the FTC to collect fees from telemarketers to continue the "Do Not Call" program.
Since the registry was created, the FTC has initiated 27 cases of alleged DNC violations, resulting in a total of $8.8 million in civil penalties and $8.6 million in consumer redress payments. Perhaps most notably, DirecTV was fined over $5 million by the FTC in 2005 for multiple violations of the registry and its rules governing telemarketing sales.
To sign up for the "Do Not Call" registry, visit the registry Web site.