Saturday, September 27, 2003


No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue  

No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue: "No-Call List: Constitutional Doubt on Hot Political Issue

Published: September 27, 2003

he court decision late Thursday forbidding the government from carrying out a national do-not-call registry on First Amendment grounds will force appeals courts and lawmakers to make some excruciating choices.
The registry, and indeed all measures to combat telemarketers, are enormously popular with the public. Already, Americans have listed 50 million phone numbers that they had hoped telephone solicitors would stop calling after Oct. 1, when the program was scheduled to go into effect.
But the decision, by Judge Edward W. Nottingham of the Federal District Court in Denver, made what may legal experts say is a good case that regulators had engaged in unconstitutional discrimination in allowing people to block commercial calls but not calls from charities, political parties, religious institutions and polling organizations.
'Under existing doctrine by the Supreme Court,' said Geoffrey R. Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago and an expert on free speech issues, 'it's a perfectly reasonable decision.'"

Well, this brings to mind the debate over tobacco advertising. Where is the difference? I guess that's why I'm not a lawyer...
This is not to say that I'm against the 'Do Not Call' list. I'm overwhelmingly for it. I don't know anyone who hasn't been hounded to distraction by telemarketers.

I'm surprised, though, that they haven't brought the phone companies into this. Just like junk-mail that used to show up in your mailbox in ever-increasing numbers, telemarketing calls do good for phone companies as much as junk-mail did good for the Post Office. USPS revenue dropped sharply, once advertisers understood the power of the telephone. After all, before Caller ID, people really HAD to answer the phone, or screen calls via answering machine, to avoid missing important calls.

Now, we've all suffered (and continue to suffer) spam. What's the next step? Probably real-time spam in the form of ads broadcast to Wi-Fi users. Imagine a rolling 'war-driver' cruising a major city and broadcasting spam into any unprotected networks it comes across.

Where will it end? I don't know. If we block everything else, then the obvious next target will be our very minds or maybe our dreams. That's the point at which we just have to slam the door and put these vermin out of business for good. I can just see Christ's cross plastered with sponsor advertising. Would I put it past them? Not on your life!

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