US Court Calls Off FTCs Registry

New Delhi: | Updated: Sep 26 2003, 05:30am hrs
Indian call centre players and associations representing them have welcomed a US court ruling that has deemed the Federal Trade Commissions (FTC) do-not-call registry invalid.

The verdict by a federal court in Oklahoma overturns the FTC ruling that bars telemarketers from calling any consumer who has enrolled in the registry, according to international news reports.

The court said the FTC acted without authorisation from Congress, the report said. National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom) and QAI (formerly known as Quality Assurance Institute) have welcomed this decision.

We are happy that this ruling has been revoked as any call centre will act in a responsible manner while calling and binding does not help, Stracon India (a Delhi-based call centre) managing director Surojit Sen said.

According to estimates available from Frost & Sullivan and QAI, around 10 per cent of the total Indian IT-enabled services industry (ITES) turnover of $2.5 billion would be impacted by the FTC rule barring telemarketers.

Nasscom estimates the impact to be in the region of 2 to 5 per cent.

Admittedly, the elimination of telemarketing fraud and the prohibition against deceptive and abusive telemarketing acts or practices are significant public concerns, wrote US district court judge Lee R West in a 19-page opinion. But an agencys power to regulate must always be grounded in a valid grant of authority from Congress. Absent such a grant of authority in this case, the court finds the do-not-call provision to be invalid.

An FTC spokeswoman said the agency had received the opinion but couldnt comment further until reviewing it, according to the news report.

Some members of the US Congress have said they will take whatever legislative action is necessary to ensure consumers can stop intrusive calls from unwanted telemarketers.

But the Direct Marketing Association, the coalition of telemarketers that challenged the rules, issued a statement saying they were grateful for the decision, the reports said.

The FTC adopted its do-not-call rules last December. The new registry proved wildly popular, with over 50 million consumers signing up for the list. It was to become effective October 1.