[clug] [OT] why "Do Not Call" register?

Paul Wayper paul.wayper at anu.edu.au
Thu Aug 23 07:49:05 GMT 2007

Robert Edwards wrote:
> Seems to me that the "Do Not Call" register (in the news recently
> because some naughty phone marketer is ignoring it) is set up all
> wrong.

Of course it's wrong - for consumers.  If it was the other way around, 
and we had an opt-in 'do call' register, no-one would bother.  The 
advertising industry sees this as a form of suicide and fights it with a 
variety of fairly spurious arguments mostly based around the theme of 
"but we have to be allowed to call them in order to continue our 
business".  And even then, an opt-in only list would still not prevent 
the same kind of cold calls that we get anyway.

The fundamental problem is that we're dealing with industry regulation 
governed by the industry - in other words, without any real penalties 
for non-compliance.  All the big advertisers go through subcontractors 
to shield themselves - the subcontractors are using whatever methods 
work because they get paid by the sale, not by the amount of 
compliance.  All these people treat breaking the law as just another 
option to get a sale - multiply the penalty of getting caught by the 
probability and you get the actual cost, and that's fairly miniscule 
most of the time.  Agreed, the do not call register has theoretically 
pushed that probability of being caught up, but as it is the consumer 
that has to do the compliance check and reporting the probability is 
practically unchanged.  In the meantime, they'll lie to us about their 
use of the Do Not Call list in the same way that they lie to us about 
just about everything else that they do and sell.

The reality is that there's no way to prevent these calls, even if phone 
numbers were cryptographically sparse and the cost of dialling an 
unconnected number was ten times that of dialling a real number.  
Companies would collect the phone numbers of their own clients, 
databases would be made and then sold on and merged and so forth and 
sooner or later we'd be getting the cold calls again.

Just another aspect of the problem,


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