It’s a rare occurence when government regulation actually boosts business, but that may be the case with “do not call” (DNC) laws.
President Bush yesterday signed a bill to establish a national DNC registry to help consumers block unwanted telemarketing calls. The measure also allows the Federal Trade Commission to collect fees to fund the initiative. Firms that call restricted numbers can be fined up to $11,000 per offense.
Washington follows the 32 states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, that have enacted statutes at the urging of residents fed up with the pitches. The federal law, which was opposed by telemarketing industry groups, is at least as stringent as state laws, and also covers interstate calls.
Given the trend, several software and networking companies are gearing up for stepped up demand from outbound call centers.
“We are very optimistic about the longterm prospects for our TeleBlock ‘do not call’ service,” Penny Thomas, a spokeswoman for e-commerce security specialist VeriSign told internetnews.com.
The Mountain View, Calif., company began offering the service in July, in partnership with Call Compliance, a privately held Glen Cove, N.Y., firm. TeleBlock provides carriers with an up-to-date, central source of the data for every available state, proprietary and third party DNC list, plus a technology to block automated dialers from reaching restricted numbers.
Today, VeriSign and Call Compliance announced that PaeTec, a communications provider serving businesses in 27 U.S. markets had bought the service. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Thomas said the company is in contract discussions with several other carriers but can’t name them because of non-disclosure pacts.
Call Compliance also sees new opportunities for growth as states begin to address issues such as unsolicited faxing and calls to cell phones, along with fine-tuning the disclosure, calling time, and engagement rules for telemarketing calls. In addition to TeleBlock, the company also sells a products for training telemarketers.
Another players in the space is Gryphon Networks, of Norwood, Mass. Besides its DNC offering, the privately held firm offers software that provides detailed reports on call center agent reporting.
Building on the popularity of “do not call” lists, some public officials have explored extending the concept to unwanted e-mail. The proposal is challenging however, given the sheer volume of unsolicited e-mail and the virtual anonymity of many senders. Several non-governmental efforts to build lists have failed to gain traction.
Editor’s note: The national bill enjoyed strong support in Congress, perhaps not only for what it includes but what it doesn’t. Exempt from regulation are surveys, charities and calls on behalf of politicians.