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FTC Bans Prerecorded Telemarketing Drivel 381

coondoggie writes "In the ongoing battle to let us eat dinner in peace without being interrupted by amazingly annoying telemarketer blather, and in this case the even more infuriating recorded telemarketing drivel, the Federal Trade Commission today basically outlawed recorded telemarketing calls. Specifically, the FTC changed its venerable Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) to prohibit, as of Sept. 2009, telemarketing calls that deliver prerecorded messages, unless a consumer has agreed to accept such calls from a given caller/seller. Between now and 2009, telemarketers must provide an obvious, easy and quick way for consumers to opt-out of any call, the FTC said. Such an opt-out mechanism needs to be in place by December 1, 2008."
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FTC Bans Prerecorded Telemarketing Drivel

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  • prerecorded (Score:5, Interesting)

    by extirpater ( 132500 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:55AM (#24669231)

    "telemarketing calls that deliver prerecorded messages"

    what if they use text to speech software? it's not prerecorded.

    am i looking for money lol

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Vectronic ( 1221470 )

      Holy Shit Stephen Hawking!, you're selling inflatable underwear? I'll buy a dozen if you autograph them!

    • by rts008 ( 812749 )

      1. Congrat's for First Post!
      2. Hopefully it won't turn into something like "Dear aunt, let's set so double the killer delete select all!!"
      3. It's about fscking time!!!
      4. It's a shame it has to take 13 months to take effect, as it affects me now.
      5. *cue Foghorn Leghorn voice* "It's a joke son, a funny!"
      6. It will be interesting how they manage to get around this after the deadline...As they will.
      7. I hope my pessimism is quashed, and my hopeful is fulfilled. (not holding my breath)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      Actually - as soon as it is in print it is prerecorded, the interface playing the recording is not of much interest then. If it's a human reading from a list or a machine doesn't matter much.

      If we can make this stick in court it can be interesting.

    • by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @10:20AM (#24673193)

      I have an opt out button on my phone. It is automatic and activates every time I slam the phone into its cradle.

  • Useless (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joebert ( 946227 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:56AM (#24669239) Homepage

    unless a consumer has agreed to accept such calls from a given caller/seller.

    Quit leaving that fucking hole in these things !

    Nobody ever willingly agrees to that shit, they're tricked into agreeing every single time.

    Nobody wants to fucking hear it, quit making laws that don't do anything other than calm people down for 5 minutes, you fucking assholes !

    God damnit, this shit is more irritating than the fucking telemarketers !

    • Re:Useless (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:58AM (#24669255) Homepage
      Even if the clause weren't in the FTC demand, it would still happen that way. Much like how in order to have ANY KIND OF CONTRACT with a company, as a consumer, you agree never ever to sue or hold them liable. Of course those things never stand up in court, but they sufficiently intimidate people enough.
    • Re:Useless (Score:5, Funny)

      by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:03AM (#24669285)

      Actually, that's not true.

      I know lots of people that enjoy telemarking calls. My grandmother was one of them. I think she was lonely or something, but she always wanted to talk to them.. She'd ask how their day was, blah blah blah. She'd invite the freaking mormons and JW's in to talk.

      Just because you can't imagine why anyone would want to talk to them doesn't mean everyone must be tricked into it.

      • Re:Useless (Score:4, Funny)

        by scubamage ( 727538 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:09AM (#24669321)
        Agreed, it depends on the day. When I used to skip all the time in highschool it was sometimes enjoyable to take a survey or just talk to someone. Gaming all day was fun, but it was nice to get some human contact - even if it was a marketer.
        • Re:Useless (Score:5, Informative)

          by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:40AM (#24669509)

          Well.... not everyone is stoned on the couch eating Cheetos and playing all day. I agree, if you are doing that then getting a call from a telemarketer can be fucking hilarious since they are paid to talk to you in the vain hopes of you remembering where you credit card might be. Under those circumstances I can entirely understand how one might want to get such calls. Kind of like reverse prank calling.

          On the other hand, there are plenty of older people who are suffering without medications because some telemarketing company drained their bank account of a couple hundred dollars which they need. There are also plenty of people that when they get home are so busy making dinner, taking care of children, and basically dealing with 9 million more important things than getting a phone call every 5 minutes from somebody wanting to sell you something.

          I'm all for it being both ways. Opt-in as well as Opt-out. That way all the grannies and stoner kids can sign up for a Telemarketer TeleBuddy(TM) and the rest of us can go on with our lives in peace.

        • Agreed, it depends on the day. When I used to skip all the time in highschool it was sometimes enjoyable to take a survey or just talk to someone. Gaming all day was fun, but it was nice to get some human contact - even if it was a marketer.

          something tells me that your a sad sad kid :P

          • by rts008 ( 812749 )

            Not really.
            As a follower of Buddhism, it can be great karmic fun to try and convert them and watch/hear their reactions and back-pedaling.
            Also it can be a comical break from IYMBG (In Your Mom's Basement Gaming) while waiting for the pizza delivery.
            Where's your sense of adventure? ( clue: sad is a state of mind-where are you at?)

            When you get this reply, also check my reply to th First Poster, and take this reply as 'tongue in cheek', but really!.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              You do understand that only applies to pre recorded messages. Last time I checked you ccan't pank a message.

              So look at the positive now all of our telemarketing calls are real people that we can screw with!

              Thanks FTC for giving us more entertainment during extreme boredom.

    • Re:A good start. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:21AM (#24669381)

      Quit leaving that fucking hole in these things !

      Why is this limited to just telemarketers? Debt collectors, campaigners, and non-profits need included.

      I kept getting hammered by an automated call only leaving a number to call back.. A Google search turned up the number belonged to a collection agency in Chicago. They were hammering stale cases and my new number from a move just happend to be one of the numbers they had. If you don't speak english and thus unable to follow the instructions to call, there is no way to stop these calls as there is never anyone on the line to talk to.

      I called them and told them to put me on their DNC list. They informed me that they were exempt as they were not telemarketers. WTF??? I expect this new thing to be full of loopholes also.

      • Re:A good start. (Score:5, Informative)

        by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:16AM (#24669669)

        I have had the same thing happen to me many times and to friends and family as well. Here is the 411 for you:

        1) They ARE exempt from all telemarketing laws. Everyone likes to bring that up on the phone, but they are actually right.

        2) So what the fuck now? They are still not exempt from basic laws governing harassment. You could deal with your phone company or talk to a supervisor of the debt collection agency and threaten a lawsuit if they keep calling you, or you could just go to....

        3) Deal with them under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. They MUST inform of you their mailing address and the appropriate department. Send them a typed letter explaining that you are not the person they keep asking for, you have no knowledge of this person any debts this person has. Demand that all communications to that number cease immediately or you will seek remedies under the FDCPA.

        Believe it or not, this works every time under the FDCPA. The reason why is that 99.9% of the people complain on the phone where the debt collection agency is not liable. Hardly anyone ever writes a letter.

        Write the letter, it will stop. If it does not.. you have a $5,000 dollar insta-claim in a small claims court of your choice.

        • Re:A good start. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Technician ( 215283 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @06:14AM (#24670619)

          Believe it or not, this works every time under the FDCPA. The reason why is that 99.9% of the people complain on the phone where the debt collection agency is not liable. Hardly anyone ever writes a letter.

          Not everyone believes that it should be a requirement to write anyone a letter who calls to ask them to stop. With some phone numbers, it's less hastle and easer to simply get another number and drop the number that is on the bad boys list. One call fixes it instead of a letter writing campaign.

          This phone abuse is one of the reasons phones & phone numbers are becomming disposable. They get clogged and die like an old email account.

          The pitty is the numbers get recycled quickly to some poor unsuspecting new customer who then has to deal with the trash associated with the old phone number.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you don't speak english and thus unable to follow the instructions to call,

        With all due respect, if you ("you" in general, not the parent poster) can't speak English then what the fuck are you doing living in an English speaking country? I live in New Zealand and we get these stories all the time how there are special translation services being offered and suggested for those who are "English impaired". WTF? How are these people even allowed to immigrate here?

        If I go live in China, I'm sure as hell they'd expect me to speak Chinese. Stupid socialist governments.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tesen ( 858022 )

        This is my entire problem with debt collections, there is basically no regulation and when you demand proof of a debt, if they drop the matter they are not required as far as I know to send you proof! What will often happened, is that company will transfer the "debt" over to another company (usually owned by the same people and usually to the guy in the cubicle next to the one that called you). So legally, now we have a different company with this "debt" to collect, they will hold it and then try to collect

    • I hear that. I turned on a new land line to get DSL less than two weeks ago. I do not even *know* the number. The next day I started getting telespam, mostly recordings. I get a couple every day. The worst part is that all but one of them had no idea who they were calling. They were clearly dialing random numbers or sequential numbers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mpe ( 36238 )
        I turned on a new land line to get DSL less than two weeks ago. I do not even *know* the number. The next day I started getting telespam, mostly recordings. I get a couple every day. The worst part is that all but one of them had no idea who they were calling.

        If you only wanted the line for DSL why did you bother connecting a regular phone to it?
    • Here in Australia, we already have a DO NOT CALL register which *basically* prevents telemarketers from calling you once you've signed up. I say *basically* because there are exemptions. - Any company you do business with is exempt - even for cold calling. So I have my power company trying to get me to switch my gas, and my gas company trying to get me to switch my power. My home phone company hassling me about my mobile and Internet connections, my ISP trying to move me onto their VOIP connections, and m
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Nomiwolf ( 1238820 )
        There's a similar register in the UK, which I registered my number on. However, there's an even more annoying loop hole over here.
        If the call centre is based outside the UK then their cold calls are not exempt - which seems more than a little rediculous to me. In the end I had to resort to only anwswering calls with listed numbers.
    • Well what if its a message from my church or from Wal Greens. I wouldn't mind getting a "your prescription is ready" message and it to be outlawed just because they forget about legitimate usages

  • Yeah, I bet the opt-out option will be right at the end of the marketing spiel, long after the target of the advertising has hung up.

  • Finally! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by StDoodle ( 1041630 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @01:58AM (#24669253)
    It's all well and good to know that you're supposed to tell someone to remove you from their call list when you actually have a human on the other end, but the endless calls to my work number (it's on the DNC list, but is too new to have propagated) by machines wishing to inform me of my vehicle's possible "out-of-warranty status" need to end.
    • I usually let calls from unknown numbers leave a message, and that doesn't give me much chance to push that 9 button. I'll hear from them over and over.

  • Exemptions? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XanC ( 644172 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:00AM (#24669259)

    Usually when government bans things like this, it exempts itself from the ban. For example, does this at all affect prerecorded political calls?

    • Re:Exemptions? (Score:5, Informative)

      by rebewt ( 588158 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:03AM (#24669289)
      Had you have read TFA you would know that it doesn't ban political robocalls.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CYwo1f ( 166549 )

      It likely does. It takes effect right AFTER the election after all.

    • Usually when government bans things like this, it exempts itself from the ban. For example, does this at all affect prerecorded political calls?

      Speech is a very dangerous to start banning... So they only ever ban "commercial" speech, and leave non-profits and political discourse alone.

      A law restricting political calls is almost guaranteed to be thrown out by the Supreme Court on the first challenge. And don't count on a constitutional amendment being passed to address everyone's minor annoyances...

      • I agree completely. Political speech needs to always be protected; it's a fundamental aspect of democracy. Some people even believe that the first amendment was referring specifically to political speech.

        On a somewhat unrelated note, the FTC making regulations like this isn't exactly law, because the FTC is an executive agency. But it more or less has the force of law.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Firehed ( 942385 )

          Indeed it is. But free speech - political or otherwise - can still be harassment, which remains illegal. I'm hardly an expert on tort law (hell, I don't know if harassment is even falls into the category), but I see no reason you couldn't sue if not press criminal charges if it's serious enough.

          • Although it seems harder for true political speech to be harassment, that is a good point. But free speech does not imply immunity from consequences, which is a distinction people don't often realize. The government can't keep you from saying something, but if it's harming someone else they can seek reparations.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Political speech needs to always be protected; it's a fundamental aspect of democracy.

          In the public, yes, in the confines of my home, NO. An undesired phone call is an intrusion into my home. One as others have pointed out here is a form of trespass. Repetitive calling beyond being informed not to is harassmenet. When a politician or their representative calls my home they are told "thankyou for letting me know who is far too rude and anti-social to vote for, now please remove me from your calling list beca

      • Re:Exemptions? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:09AM (#24669637)

        A law restricting political calls is almost guaranteed to be thrown out by the Supreme Court on the first challenge.

        The right to speech does not imply the obligation to listen. As long as I still pay the phone bill, its my phone, and nothing in the constitution says I must share it.

        • Re:Exemptions? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EdIII ( 1114411 ) * on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:42AM (#24669783)


          They are not banning commercial, political, or unpopular speech in any way whatsoever. What they are acknowledging is that we all have a right to restrict who can invade our privacy, or interrupt our peaceful enjoyment of our property. There is a big difference between stopped in the middle of the street by someone asking you what you believe in or if you want a widget and a salesman sticking his foot in your door.

          The telemarketing laws, and any resultant laws restricting political, charitable, or even religious telephone calls, would amount to nothing more than a "NO SOLICITORS" sign on your telephone instead of your front door.

          This is incredibly important since there are so many ways a person can be communicated to these days. Instant messaging, SMS, MMS, VOIP, Email, etc. If we don't allow somebody the ability to restrict unsolicited communications on these channels, then they will become useless with an astronomically low signal to noise ratio. Before the telemarketing laws got enacted corporations were getting busy signals trying to contact people!

          The basic principles and goals behind telemarketing and SPAM are the same. What is needed are new laws which encompass ALL of these channels at the same time and define what is unsolicited.

          Political and Charitable marketing communications are by their very nature unsolicited.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Speech is a very dangerous to start banning... So they only ever ban "commercial" speech, and leave non-profits and political discourse alone.

        I agree. But when did a pre-recorded message become "speech"?
        If McCain wants to call me to tell me bad things about Obama, let him, but then I want to hear him in person. His right to talk to me stops when he prevents himself from hearing me hanging up on him.

        I also wish there was a way to temporarily block a phone for all calls except emergencies from numbers regis

  • by religious freak ( 1005821 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:00AM (#24669261)
    There's one thing that is conspicuously missing from do not call lists, and that is the ability to opt out of ANY kind of call you receive.

    Currently, you're not able to opt out of receiving political or charitable calls. There are companies out there masquerading as charities and calling folks. I'm on their list and have been told several times that I cannot and will not be removed from their lists, because they don't have to.

    Once the FTC fixes this, then I'll be impressed.
    • by mrboyd ( 1211932 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:16AM (#24669349)
      The politician who will vote to let you opt out of political telemarketing call will never be elected due to lack of funding.. aaaah paradox.. :)
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) *

      That will never happen in a million billion years.

      Politicians practically NEVER enact laws that restrain their own actions. They are literally above the law, since they write the law.

      Basic human nature here. I agree the hypocrisy is so thick you can't see through it. What you are looking for is part of a larger need for campaign finance and election reform BADLY needed in this country to counter the rampant corruption in our legislative bodies. So far there has been some writings and lip service, but ne

    • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:47AM (#24669807)
      Fix it yourself with Asterisk []. Numbers not on the white list are dumped into recorded phone tree maze with endless loops of meaningless choices and no way out except to hang up. It would be even better with a plugin that could try and string them on for a while without actually divulging any meaningful information by responding at pauses with phrases like "that sounds interesting", "uh-huh", and "I'm not sure" the goal being to waste as much of the telemarketer's time as possible on a dead end call (i.e. no sale) before they hang up in frustration.
    • Step 1) Start sending them bricks anonymously. Make sure you don't put enough postage on the package, so they have to pay to receive it.

      Step 2) Make a note that it is a charitable donation and that they cannot and will not be removed from your list.

      Step 2a) Convince Slashdot and Digg to do the same

      Step 3) Profit? We don't need no stinking profit!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KGIII ( 973947 )

      Tell them to re-read the law and then report them. AFAIK They can cold call you. You may then tell that specific organization to not call you again and they must honor that request within 30 (or is it 90?) business days. If, after that time, they call you again they are subject to fines up to $11,000.

      (I was a SysOp for ICT - a telecommunications/market firm ages ago and follow the laws fairly clearly. However, the .gov site is down at the moment, IANAL, and I don't follow the changes as closely as I should.

  • United States only (Score:2, Informative)

    by whtmarker ( 1060730 )
    This only applies to telemarketers calling from within the united states. A lot of the iterative calling I get is from international skypers.

    There are some calls that are exempt, like during a state of emergency the fire department will issue an evacuation order via automated phonecall.
    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      And vice versa. As someone outside the US, I get a lot of these prerecorded calls originating from the US, but seldom from my own country where I'm on the equivalent of your do not call list. What's the bet this law only applies to calls to and from US numbers, and telemarketing is just going to be pushed across national borders from now on.
  • by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:16AM (#24669345)

    Yes we've had laws against pre-recorded robotic marketing in Canada for decades. The problem is that neither the government nor the police are willing to enforce the law. When I get robots calling me up I make a complaint to the phone company and the phone company says they can't do anything about it because it is a police issue. When I phone the police up they tell me that they won't do anything about it because it is the phone company's responsibility to stop the illegal practice.

    • At least in relation to the Do Not Call list. The amount of telemarketing calls I got went WAAAAAY down when I got on it. Also there have been a number of big fines handed down for it. Some of the large companies like AT&T figured this didn't really apply to them, and that the list was a convenient list of working numbers. Ya well the FTC showed them that indeed it DID apply to the tune of a few million dollars and they straightened up.

      You never get 100% compliance, of course, but it is pretty good here

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        They don't act on an individual complaint, but they compile them and if a company gets a number of them, the FTC goes after them.

        That's pretty much what I was (finally) told (after calling back and forth between Bell Canada and the police) by the police. This means that I will continue to get automated robotic calls from the same companies (it has been happening for a few years already) until enough people decide to complain about it.

        It's not a criminal issue, it is a civil.regulatory issue. So the police aren't involved.

        According to what I was told by Bell Canada, it is a police issue. I agree however that the police should not have to get involved. I received no help or advice from either institution. I remember one ti

  • More and more marketing will be driven to the companies you already do business with, thereby getting around this banning of 'cold calling'. When I verify a new credit card they play marketing pitches, and on some bills I have to detach an advertisement from the mailing envelope. There is simply no way a single person can opt-out of a sales pitch from every company on the planet. The standard must be to opt-in.
    • by EdIII ( 1114411 ) *

      Even opt-in is a problem. Every one of those promotional campaigns in the theaters and malls that promise a car or a year of gas ALL have opt-in agreements in the fine print. By giving them your information on the ticket you are in fact creating a contractual relationship where they, or their AFFILIATES OR SUBSIDIARIES can call or send you promotional literature.

      Making opt-in the preferred method of dealing with this problem will only work when the unwashed masses are educated enough to stop doing Stupid

  • by John Pfeiffer ( 454131 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:24AM (#24669415) Homepage

    ...why aren't the pre-recorded messages about 'your vehicle warranty' and messages from 'cardholder services' illegal to begin with? They're basically fraudulent trolling schemes. They don't come out and say it, but they basically imply that they're something they aren't. Like "OH SNAP! YOUR CAR'S WARRANTY IS ABOUT TO EXPIRE, BLAH BLAH BLAH!" a less intelligent person might think this is actually real and important. Cardholder services? Please. "We're your credit card company, press 1 on your touchtone phone to lower your interest rate!" There's also that snail-mail spam claiming to be from your registrar, saying your domain is about to expire, and you have to pay them $29.95.

    I get half a dozen of these calls a day. Not being comfortable with phones, I try to use them as little as possible, so it really pisses me off.

    And the opt-out is a joke. I have 'been removed from the list' 17 times this week alone, for the exact same fucking 'cardholder services' recording!

    Something else that is a joke is Anonymous Call Rejection, where calls are blocked if they have Caller ID blocked (Not Available) or are 'PRIVATE'. Too bad telemarketers know this, and therefor I'm still constantly getting calls from anonymous 800-numbers that are NAMED 'Private' and 'Not Available'. Assholes. I wonder if I can sue them under the DMCA for circumventing my apparent 'spamfucker security'.

    • by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (cificap_4k)> on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @04:05AM (#24669881) Homepage Journal
      I used to get calls all the time from "cardholder services". From what I gathered, it's basically a scam where they charge you and then call up your credit card company to ask for a lower rate. Apparently, people who went in for this had their cards billed for thousands. I've asked them repeatedly to remove me from their list to no avail. Here's how I finally got them to stop calling.

      First I pressed "1" for a live operator. Now to fuck with them and remain consistent, I made up a cheat sheet in advance. On it I wrote a fake credit card number, an expiration date, a fake "card not present" number, a fake SSN, fake balance, etc. They require you to have at least $3000 in debt and at least $2500 in available credit on at least one card to cover their fees.

      One thing they ask for is the customer service number for the card so they can call your bank, which they do while you are on hold. So, I used this page of bank ID numbers [] when making my fake credit card number, and I also googled my chosen bank's customer service number (I picked Wachovia). Also I rigged the number to validate by the Luhn algorithm [] in case their systems check for that. This way we have a very plausible but totally fake credit card number which will hopefully pass any initial consistency checking they may do.

      So I put this cheat sheet by the phone and waited for the call. Within a few hours, they called.

      I answer their questions. First they ask about my debt. I tell them $9000 across two cards. I mention my "Wachovia Mastercard". They acknowledge knowingly and ask me to "verify" the card number "starting with the 5" thus suggesting they already know the card number. All Mastercards start with 5. I give them the fake number. They ask me to "verify" the expiration date. I give them the fake date. They ask for the customer service number on the back of the card. I give them Wahovia's number. They put me on hold for five minutes to call up Wachovia and negotiate me a lower rate.

      "Wachovia says it's an invalid number. Can you re-read your card number?" I re-read the same number. They put me on hold again for several minutes. This repeats again. I reassure them that card is valid, that I just used it an hour or so ago, etc. They try again. They get a supervisor. He tries. It keeps coming back invalid. I waste forty five minutes of at least two people's time. Finally, as they apologize for not being able to help me, I calmly explain my ruse. What followed was a string of obscenities that even made my dog gag, followed by them abruptly hanging up.

      And they haven't called me since.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by KGIII ( 973947 )

      If you live in the United States of America don't look at the DNC laws but do a few minutes of research with the TCPA (1991) and file a few complaints. You *should* see some results fairly quickly. Complaints can even be filed online.

  • I'm on the do-not-call list and I still get prerecorded calls from jerks trying to sell me extended warranties or running debt collection scams, looking for people that I've never heard of. The one that called today was using a local international VOIP/PSTN gateway to cover their tracks. They are already violating multiple laws, what's one more? The federal government needs to track down the owners of these companies, take their loot and put them on a chain gang.

    Here is a recent example:

    Pa.sues son of Hous []

  • by donbriggs ( 936171 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:43AM (#24669517) Homepage
    OK, everybody hates them. Nobody likes them. Yet they keep saying "we provide a valuable service that people like, and it is not annoying".

    Here is the solution. We don't need to outlaw them. We need the law only two require two things:
    1. Telemarketers MUST display a proper number for caller ID
    2. Telemarketers may NOT block incoming calls
    Then we all install auto-dialer programs on our PC's. We record a long, babbling message stating: "Thank you for your recent call. This message is to inform you that we do not wish to receive any automated calls from you, or any of your business partners, or anybody else, ever again. You may consider this our opt-out message. For your convenience, this message will automatically re-dial you every 30 seconds until you opt out of OUR auto dial promotion. You may signify your intention to opt out of our special, valuable auto-dial list by not calling us again for 6 months. Once you have opted out of our program by not calling us for 6 months, your number will be automatically removed from our calling list. Thank you, and have a nice day."

    In other words, we would start clogging THEIR phones, and THEY would get pissed off. And the only way to get off of our autodial list is to stop calling us. You stop pissing us off, we will stop pissing you off.

    Comments? Questions?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamhigh ( 1252742 ) *
      IT WORKS PEOPLE. I did exactly that (but since I didn't want to mess with sending voice, I just used the XP fax utility). Setup my GF's laptop next to the phone and plugged in the modem (first time in AGES). Every 15 minutes the scheduled task fired a "fax" to the annoying company. After they called multiple times each day for weeks, they quit calling me the day I implemented Marketing Faxor(TM).

      ps. Can't remember if I used a vbscript - probably, I use it for most everything on windows. But if the f
  • Ban SPAM (Score:5, Funny)

    by amirulbahr ( 1216502 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:47AM (#24669533)
    Now all they need to do is ban SPAM emails...
  • Opting out (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SmlFreshwaterBuffalo ( 608664 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @02:47AM (#24669535)

    an obvious, easy and quick way for consumers to opt-out of any call

    You mean like, say, hanging up? There's really not much point unless you can opt-out before the call. Maybe they should create some kind of list of people that companies do not call - like the one they have now, but actually have it work this time.

  • Phone Captcha.

    • by Anpheus ( 908711 )

      Have you ever had to spell out a model, serial or license number over the phone?

      You don't even need to add your own distortions.

      • by Jesrad ( 716567 )

        Great ! It just makes it more efficient at diverting my annoyance from getting a phonecall onto the caller.

  • Privacy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by florescent_beige ( 608235 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @03:00AM (#24669603) Journal

    Telephone communications are considered private, right? That is, unlike email, a phone conversation can reasonably be expected to be between only me and the party on the other end.

    How can one then presume that a private activity such telephone communication should be treated as a broadcast medium? Political free speech is an exemption? Am I to let every politician come into my bedroom for a little pillow talk because of "free speech"?

    The phone is a direct line into the heart of my private home. I don't want anyone in my home who I didn't invite.

    You might say calling me is no different from coming up and knocking on my door. OK then, come up and knock on my door. Too expensive you say? Calling is more efficient you say? Well I believe the term was "free speech", not "cheap speech".

    Oh, and when you do come knocking, don't forget to read the sign that says "No Solicitors". You know, the sign that sets the rules on my private property where I have certain rights also.

    Tell you what, here's a good way to do it. Since I can't put a sign on my phone, why not make a rule that says if you want to call me you have to have come to my door and get me to sign a piece of paper that says I agree to take your calls. If that's too much trouble, then I probably didn't want to hear from you anyway.

  • Okay, I'm not in the US, so this law won't affect me or anything (I'd still get those pre-recorded marketing calls). But why isn't this going to be in effect in September 2009?
    All those companies have to do is stop doing it.
    It's not like they have to set up a different system.

    I mean, it will take more than a year before this is in effect. Everyone will have forgotten about this, and nothing will be done about it.

    • by MadJo ( 674225 )

      argh, I meant "Why is this going to be in effect in September 2009, why not in 2008?"

  • To cover phone calls from the mother in law

  • Wouldn't it be even nicer if the rules applied to those endless calls from political candidates an parties this time of year? But, of course, politicians never apply the rules to themselves!


    <a href="" target="_blank">Vote for "None of the Above." The most qualified candidate!</a>
  • Mandate that the telcos charge an additional few cents per call, which go to the number you are dialling. This will drastically raise the costs of the marketers, make the victims feel better about their answerphone full of crud, and even out between normal people calling each other.

  • ... would be upset about yet another harmless activity becoming taboo, subject to government control, or outright illegal.

  • by Karellen ( 104380 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @05:30AM (#24670381) Homepage

    It's amazing how versatile this document is.

    Your law advocates a

    ( ) technical (x) legislative ( ) market-based ( ) vigilante

    approach to fighting telemarketing spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    ( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    ( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    ( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    (x) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    ( ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    ( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    ( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    ( ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    ( ) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (x) Asshats
    ( ) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    ( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    ( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    ( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    ( ) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (x) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    ( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever been shown practical
    (x) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    ( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    ( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    ( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    ( ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    ( ) Sending email should be free
    ( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    ( ) I don't want the government reading my email
    (x) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    (x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    ( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your house down!

  • by cunamara ( 937584 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @09:47AM (#24672661)
    Just hang up the damned phone! What are you, an idiot? If you don't want to be interrupted by a phone conversation during dinner, don't answer the phone. Turn off the ringer, let the answering machine get it. Delete the message as soon as you can tell it's not someone you want to talk to. Jeez, people, it's simple! Stop pretending you're a victim.
  • Hi! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Number6.2 ( 71553 ) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:29PM (#24675891) Homepage Journal

    We've been trying to contact you about your website! It's due to expire in the Very Near Future, and if you don't renew, it could lead to service outages, legal costs, hair loss, or worse: Failure in Iraq!

    Please press 1 to talk to one of our Network Experts. Press 2 to a representative in our Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt division. Press 3 to talk to Phishing Expert, and press 9 to opt out of this call!

    Please, hurry!

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.