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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration Officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

Tim Muris

September 29, 2003

aury, from scranton, penn writes:
Will the President or the courts make the ultimate decision in whether the Do-not-call registry can proceed? And why?

Tim Muris
To the extent that the issue is one of legislative authority, the Congress and the President will make the final decision. Thus, the bill the President signed today effectively overturns a court decision from Oklahoma last week.

To the extent that the issue involves intepretation of the U.S. Constitution, the courts will have the final say unless, of course, the Constitution is amended.

Bob, from Pullman writes:
What if I tell a business, who I've dealt with in the last 18 months, that I do not want them to call me? Do I have any legal standing? Or can they call me as much as they want?

Tim Muris
Assuming the rules are effective, and at least the FCC rules will go into effect Wednesday, such a business can only telemarket to you legally once. Once you ask them not to call you again, you can make a do not call request and they are obligated to respect your wishes.

Tina, from Arlington, TX writes:
Tim What is the bottom line? Will the list go into effect or not?

Tim Muris
As of today, the list will go into effect for FCC enforcement as of October 1, 2003. Ultimately, I am confident the FTC will also be able to enforce violations of the National Do Not Call Registry. The FTC is vigorously pursuing its ability to enforce the national registry in court today.

Gloria, from Wichita Falls writes:
Mr. Muris, can I still sign up for this? What is the procedure?

Tim Muris
Yes, the National Do Not Call Registry is still open for business, accepting registration from consumers at

After you have registered online, you will receive an email and must click on the link within the email to confirm your registration.

Registration is free and simple. Even if all legal challenges are resolved, those who sign up now may not see a decrease in phone calls until after January 1, 2004.

Darren, from Richmond writes:
Is it possible to get my ex-wife on the Do Not Call list? She's driving me crazy, man.

Tim Muris
The registry is only designed to stop telemarketers, so you can only put your ex-wife on the list if you don’t want to buy what she is selling. Good luck.

Kat, from Michigan writes:
President Bush signed the bill after it was overruled by the court system. why sign the bill if this system outruled? Why not bring it to a higher court?

Tim Muris
The FTC is doing everything possible to bring the National Do Not Call Registry to the American people. The bill the President signed today effectively overruled the decision by the first court much more swiftly than if we had appealed. Because the second court decision involved a constitutional issue, Congress cannot act so swiftly to overturn the decision.

Ted, from North Hampton Beach writes:
What was the most annoying telemarketing call you've received?

Tim Muris
Because I like to know which companies are selling which products, most telemarketing calls do not bother me. Occasionally, however, a telemarketer will interrupt time with my family.

Holly, from Indiana writes:
It's silly to me that there is any opposition to this. The judges, in my opinion acted inappropriately. There is overwhelming support for this measure and it appalls me that the judges acted this way and some representatives actually voted against it. Tell me, Tim, what has been the public response to this list? How many people signed up and have you ever seen anything like it?

Tim Muris
There are over 51 million phone numbers on the list, surely representing a greater number of Americans. I am not sure there has been this public interest since the Seabiscuit - War Admiral match of 1938. One third of Americans listened to the match race, and it was during business hours.

Greg, from Philadelphia writes:
Will another judge rule on this now?

Tim Muris
The legal situation is very complex. We have asked the District Court judge who ruled against us on constitutionial issues to stay his decision, which would allow us to implement and enforce the registry. If he denies our request, we will ask the Circuit Court of Appeals that oversees him to grant the stay. We hope to know by the end of the week if we are successful.

Art, from West Kentucky writes:
Who has jurisdiction over this?

Tim Muris
The FTC, the FCC and the states all have jurisdiction, but not all over the same telemarketers and sellers. The jurisdiction of all three combined is greater than that of any one of us.

carol, from florida writes:
Why do I have to put up with telemarkers calling mewhen ever they feel like it. Can't you do something to stop this.???

Tim Muris
The point of the registry is to give you choice about eliminating most telemarketing calls. On each call, you can also ask each seller (or solicitor) not to call you again.

Phil, from Baltimore, Maryland writes:
What do you say to the people who say this is an infringement on a person's or companies' personal freedoms?

Tim Muris
Freedom is not absolute. The "regulation" here is extremely modest: giving Americans a choice whether they want to reduce the number of telemarketing calls they want to receive.

Steve, from Detroit writes:
How does the FTC think that banning commercial speech but not charitable speech is constitutional? Even if the FTC could ban all speech, what does the Commission have to support the opinion that doing so is constitutional?

Tim Muris
The Supreme Court has repeatedly stated that charitable solicitations enjoy greater constitutional protection than commercial solicitation. The district court decision ignores this law and puts us in a Catch-22. If we had treated charities and commercial sellers identically, we would have been on much shakier constitutional ground.

Tim Muris
Thank you very much for your questions. Our most important priority at the FTC for the past two years has been implementing the National Do Not Call Registry. We are confident that we will ultimately prevail and we will fight very hard for the rights of Americans to limit unwanted telemarketing calls.

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