To Robert Weintzen, President of the Direct Marketing Association:
As someone who manages a direct marketing department, and is a strong
defender of individual freedom, I wanted to tell you that you do not
speak for me in your suit to prevent a national "Do Not Call"
You were quoted by Reuters as saying, "The FTC is singling out this
form of advertising now, what will be next?" This statement proves you are
ignorant of the fundamental issue involved.
The issue is not "the regulation of advertising" versus "the
non-regulation of advertising". By framing the issue in this way, you are
blanking out the existence of the *medium* of the advertising. If you own or
pay for the particular advertising medium, then yes, the freedom of
speech applies. But you do not own my telephone.
And a print ad in Playboy doesn't force me to get out of bed.
By calling me at 10:00 Saturday morning asking me if I want to sign up
for some g** d***** telephone service, you are infringing upon *my*
right to choose to use my phone only as a medium of communication with
those to whom I've given permission (even if that permission is implicit,
such as with friends). When you call *my* telephone, or leave a message
on *my* answering machine, you are using those devices without my
consent. You would not demand that Sports Illustrated or Newseek give you
unrestricted free ad space, so what makes you think I should give you
unrestricted free use of my phone?
As much as I despise the FTC (and think it should be completely
dismantled), a national "Do Not Call" list is a reasonable idea. In actuality,
though, this is not the proper role of government. The proper (private)
way of handling this issue would be for your organization to create not
a "Do Not Call" list, but rather a "Do Call" list. It is *your*
responsibility to find out who will give you permission to use their telephone
for advertising purposes. The burden should be on *you*, not the
consumer, nor on the government. Just as every store owner need not put up
"Post No Bills" signs on their store windows, so should the consumer not
be forced to carry the burden of chasing away advertisers. If it ain't
your window or your phone, you need to ask before you help yourself.
Furthermore, I find your own version of an "opt-out" telemarketing list
to be totally absurd. To sign up for the list on the Direct Marketing
Association website, one must pay a $5.00 "processing fee". Are you
***ing kidding me? I'd like you to ask your friends and relatives what they
think of this "processing fee". Actually, you can start by asking them
if they've ever heard of the Direct Marketing Association's "Telephone
Preference Service". I expect you will receive a blank stare.
Please do not help to blur the public's understanding of the freedom of
speech. Your attack on the national "Do Not Call" list is just such an
attempt. Or more likely, it's just another pragmatic attempt by a trade
organization to "get something done" for its members, regardless of the
long-term consequences and actual rights issues involved.