updated 7/28/2003 8:02:31 AM ET 2003-07-28T12:02:31

Telemarketers expanded their legal challenge to the government’s do-not-call list, suing a second federal agency over the call-blocking service for consumers that the industry says will devastate business and cost up to two million jobs.

THE FREE GOVERNMENT REGISTRY for blocking telephone sales pitches has grown to more than 28 million numbers since it was opened June 27, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which operates the service. The FTC has predicted registration to grow to 60 million numbers by next summer.

The American Teleservices Association, an industry group that sued the FTC in January to stop the list, asked the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Friday to reject new regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC added its authority to the list to close regulatory loopholes and block calls from certain industries, including airlines, banks and telephone companies.

“This truly is a case of regulatory overkill,” said Tim Searcy, ATA executive director. “The FCC ignored its obligations under the federal law and the Constitution to carefully balance the privacy interests of consumers with the First Amendment rights of legitimate telemarketers.”

People who sign up this summer should see a decrease in telemarketing calls after the FTC begins enforcing the list Oct. 1. The service will block about 80 percent of the calls, the FTC said.

The telemarketing industry estimates the do-not-call list could cut its business in half, costing it up to $50 billion in sales each year. Implementing the list could also eliminate up to two million jobs, the ATA said.

The ATA also asked the FCC on Friday to stay enforcement of its rules until the court can review them. No court date has been set for the case against the FTC, the group said.

Similar lawsuits brought by other telemarketers are pending.

There are about 166 million residential phone numbers in the United States, the FTC said, and the wireless industry estimates there are more than 147 million U.S. cell phone numbers.

More than a dozen states with do-not-call lists plan to add their lists to the national registry this summer, the FTC said. Consumers on those lists need not register again.

Beginning in September, telemarketers will have to check the list every three months to see who doesn’t want to be called. Those who call listed people could be fined up to $11,000 for each violation. Consumers would file complaints to an automated phone or online system.

Exemptions from the list include calls from charities and pollsters and calls on behalf of politicians. A company also may call a person on the no-call list if that person has bought, leased or rented from the company within the past 18 months or has inquired about or applied for something during the past three months.

People can register for the service by calling toll-free at 1-888-382-1222 or visiting the http://www.donotcall.gov Web site.

© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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