The Associated Press
updated 10/7/2003 8:36:28 PM ET 2003-10-08T00:36:28

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission can enforce the national Do Not Call Registry while an appeals court considers whether it violates telemarketers’ free-speech rights, according to a court order released Tuesday.

THE DECISION BY the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver makes it easier for the federal government to enforce its popular anti-telemarketing program, which had been thrown into legal limbo after a lower court said the FTC could not act.

Another federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission, has been tracking complaints about telemarketers who call those who do not want to hear from them, but without the FTC’s help the task was made more complicated.

The legal status of the list is still not resolved as the appeals court must determine whether it unconstitutionally discriminates between commercial and charitable calls, which are not subject to the no-call rule.

But until then, the FTC will be able to fine telemarketers up to $11,000 for each time they call one of the 51 million phone numbers on the list.

In its decision, a three-judge panel said the FTC stood a good chance of winning its case.

“We conclude there is a substantial likelihood that the FTC will be able to show ... that the list directly advances the government’s substantial interest and is narrowly tailored,” the judges said.

The court used similar logic last week when it allowed the Federal Communications Commission to enforce the list.

Many telemarketers had said they would voluntarily observe the list.

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