Can’t wait for Do-not-call list

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I was really looking forward to today.

Oct. 1 &045; the day of release from the horror of telemarketers. The day of freedom from their abuses of our home phone numbers.

But that may not happen after all.

There have been court rulings, moves by the Legislature and the White House.

It’s hard to tell, at this point, if the telemarketers will be ordered to stop on Oct. 1 or not.

According to CNN, the national do-not-call registry may not go into effect unless federal officials can convince the courts that the list does not violate free speech rights guaranteed by the first amendment.

First, there was a ruling that the Federal Trade Commission needed a legislative act to be able to create a do-not-call list for telemarketing companies.

The House of Representatives and Senate acted quickly to create such a mandate. But then, a second federal court judge ruled that the list was a violation of free speech for those companies it would affect.

However, President George W. Bush went ahead on Monday and signed the mandate into law.

Now this is where it gets sticky.

I guess it’s not the first time in the history of our country that one first amendment right appeared to contradict another.

In this case, though, the telemarketing companies are definitely infringing on my right to privacy in my own home by their incessant calls.

It seems that from the time I get home, the phone rings.

I have caller ID, so I don’t answer. I just let the answering machine get it anytime it reads &uot;Unknown Name, Unknown Number&uot; or &uot;Unknown Name, 800 Number&uot; or anything else I don’t recognize.

The caller ID is a useful tool for avoiding these telemarketers; but just think how nice it would be to come home after a long day at work and be welcomed by silence, by the quiet most of us yearn for after the phone has been ringing annoyingly all day at work.

And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

More than 730,000 people registered for the do-not-call list on the first day it was offered.

One Louisiana legislator said last week that 50 million people can’t be wrong, referring to the number of phone numbers that people have signed up to block unwanted solicitations.

I understand the fear and trepidation of the telemarketing companies with the list cutting their prospects down.

However, their first amendment right to call people on the phone and try to sell their products should not infringe on my right to have peace and quiet in my own home.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens now.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep watching that caller ID.

Candace Parker is the news editor of the Shelby County Reporter. She can be reached at