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May 1999


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 receive calls.

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. blocking.

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. service.

A Minnesota bill prohibits telephone marketers from blocking display of their telephone numbers on consumers' caller I.D. devices and establishes a state "do-not-call" list.

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 telephone number.

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.







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