Legislation Prohibits Caller I.D. Blocking
BY JERRY CERASALE, DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION
State legislators looking for more ways to give consumers control over their telephones
are proposing legislation to regulate the display of a telephone marketer's identity on
consumers' caller identification devices. These bills either require telephone marketers
to display their names and telephone numbers on caller I.D. devices or prohibit the use of
any method to block or alter such display.
Some states have enacted laws:
Georgia (Act 698, effective July 1, 1998) prohibits telephone
solicitors from knowingly using any method to block the display of their telephone numbers
from recipients' caller I.D. devices.
Kansas (ch. 172, effective July 1, 1997) prohibits telephone sellers
from withholding the display of their telephone numbers from a caller I.D. service if that
number is being used for telemarketing purposes and the seller's service or equipment is
capable of displaying it.
Kentucky (ch. 581, effective July 15, 1998) prohibits telephone
marketers from using any method to block or otherwise interfere with caller I.D. service
when making sales calls.
Michigan (Act 253, effective April 1, 1999) prohibits telephone
solicitors from activating a feature to block display of their telephone numbers from a
telephone subscriber's caller I.D. device.
New Hampshire (ch. 14, effective January 1, 1999) prohibits telephone
solicitors from using any per-call or per-line blocking or any other method that prevents
the display of their phone numbers on residential subscribers' caller I.D. devices. If the
seller leaves a message or uses an ADAD, the caller I.D. must display a telephone number
at which the seller may receive calls.
New York (ch. 176, effective November 4, 1998) prohibits solicitors
from intentionally using any blocking device or service to prevent the display of their
names or telephone numbers on a called party's caller I.D. equipment.
Tennessee (ch. 734, effective July 1, 1998) prohibits telephone
sellers from making sales calls from a telephone with an unlisted number or using
equipment that blocks the function of the called party's caller I.D. device.
Texas (effective September 1, 1997) prohibits telephone marketers from
using any method that prevents display of their telephone numbers on a recipient's caller
I.D. unit. If the marketer leaves a message on a called party's answering machine or uses
an ADAD, the caller I.D. display must include a telephone number at which the marketer may
Utah (ch. 77, effective May 4, 1998) prohibits telephone marketers
from withholding display of their phone numbers from recipients' caller I.D. devices when
the marketers' service or equipment is capable of allowing display of the number.
In addition, numerous proposals are being introduced:
An Illinois bill prohibits telephone solicitors, whether calling in
person or with an automatic dialer, from blocking the display of their telephone numbers
on caller I.D. devices.
Indiana legislation requires telephone companies providing caller I.D.
service in Indiana to provide state regulators with the name of each customer that has
made a pattern of telephone calls that could be construed as violating state law
prohibiting telephone solicitors from using caller I.D. blocking. Two or more violations
of the law constitute a Class D felony.
Another Indiana bill prohibits telephone solicitors from knowingly or
intentionally blocking the display of their telephone numbers or identities on a
recipient's caller I.D device.
Legislation pending in Louisiana states that, "Any telephone
solicitor who contacts any residential or mobile telephone subscriber for the purpose of
making a telephone solicitation shall possess an identification code that will appear on a
caller identification unit. The identification code will correctly identify the name of
the telephone solicitor and a phone number where the solicitor can be reached during
normal business hours." In addition, solicitors are prohibited from blocking or
otherwise concealing their identities or the phone numbers at which they may be reached.
A bill in Maine prohibits telephone solicitors from using caller I.D.
Massachusetts legislation prohibits caller I.D. blocking by telephone
solicitors and levies a $1,000 fine for each violation.
Another Massachusetts bill authorizes the state to require telephone
companies to offer a "block the blocker" service, which allows residential
telephone subscribers to avoid taking calls from sources unidentifiable by a caller I.D.
A Minnesota bill prohibits telephone marketers from blocking display
of their telephone numbers on consumers' caller I.D. devices and establishes a state
A Mississippi proposal prohibits telephone sellers from knowingly
blocking or otherwise circumventing a subscriber's use of caller I.D. technology.
Missouri legislators are considering a bill that prohibits telephone
solicitors from withholding the display of their telephone numbers used in telephone
marketing from a caller I.D. service when the equipment and service capability exist to
display the solicitor's phone number.
In Nebraska, telephone marketers are prohibited from "knowingly
utilizing any method to block or otherwise circumvent" a telephone subscriber's
caller I.D. service.
A bill in New Jersey prohibits telephone marketers from using any
method to block a recipient's caller I.D. service and requires the state to establish and
maintain a do-not-call list of residential telephone customers who do not wish to receive
telephone solicitation calls at home.
A North Dakota bill prohibits telephone marketers from using per-call
or per-line blocking to prevent the identification of their names and telephone numbers on
a recipient's caller I.D. equipment. The legislation authorizes the North Dakota attorney
general to collect an administrative penalty of up to $1,000 per day or portion of a day
from telephone solicitors who are found in violation of the statute.
Another proposed North Dakota measure prohibits telephone solicitation
calls to the telephone lines of residential subscribers who have given notice to the state
that they do not wish to receive such calls. Additionally, telephone solicitors are
prohibited from blocking or in any way circumventing caller I.D. technology.
Oklahoma legislation makes it an unlawful practice to use equipment or
techniques to block or avoid detection of a commercial telephone seller's identity or
A bill in South Carolina prohibits telephone solicitors from blocking
or circumventing a residential phone subscriber's caller I.D. service.
Jerry Cerasale is the senior vice president of government affairs at the Direct
Marketing Association. He is in charge of DMA's contact with Congress, all federal
agencies, and state and local governments.