November 2, 2007

Jeff Perlman, Executive Vice President – Government Affairs
Clark Rector Jr., Senior Vice President – State Government Affairs
Robert Kohlmeyer, Coordinator – Government Affairs

House and Senate Committees Approve Do Not Call Registry Expiration Removal

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee each approved bills that would eliminate the automatic five-year expiration date for phone numbers listed on the National Do Not Call Registry, which prohibits unsolicited commercial telephone calls to numbers on the registry. The same House Committee approved another bill that would renew the names on the registry for an additional five years, rather than permanently. The five-year expiration was created to keep the list a manageable size. So far, neither bill addresses how phone numbers no longer in use will be removed from the registry. Last week, the Federal Trade Commission said it will not automatically remove phone numbers from the registry while Congress works to modify the law.
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Broadcasters Say Government Intervention in Digital Transition Education Unnecessary

Representatives of the television broadcasting industry told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that the government does not need to require broadcasters to air public service announcements on the upcoming analog to digital television transition, saying that industry's efforts would be more effective. A bill (H.R. 608), introduced by House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Ranking Member Fred Upton, R-Mich., would give the Federal Communications Commission the authority to oversee digital television transition education initiatives, including PSAs, which FCC Chairman Kevin Martin has requested. The hearings have been held to address concerns that consumers will not be adequately informed about the February 17, 2009, shutoff of analog television broadcast signals. Television sets receiving over-the-air signals will need to be equipped with a digital-to-analog converter box before the transition date.
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Privacy Advocates Call for "Do Not Track List"

A coalition of nine privacy organizations have called on the Federal Trade Commission to implement a "Do Not Track List" designed to allow consumers to prevent advertisers and marketers from saving or using information about their Internet activity. Under the proposal, the FTC would administer the list in a similar manner as the National Do Not Call Registry. The group further proposed allowing consumers access to all personally identifiable information collected about them and prohibiting advertisers from collecting personally identifiable medical, financial or other sensitive data. The organizations comprising the group are: the Center for Democracy and Technology, Consumer Action, Consumer Federation of America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Privacy Activism, Public Information Research, Privacy Journal, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and World Privacy Forum. A copy of the letter is available here.
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John Edwards Calls for DTC Moratorium

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards called for a two-year moratorium on new pharmaceutical advertising and for FDA approval of new ad campaigns. Edwards, a former senator from North Carolina, said his proposal is a reaction to misleading advertising and high costs of prescription drugs. Edwards made a similar proposal during his 2004 presidential campaign and introduced an amendment in the Senate in 2003 that would have imposed a moratorium on new drug ads. In September, President Bush signed a bill giving the FDA the authority to sue drug companies for false or misleading advertising. Provisions originally in the bill that called for moratoriums on new drug advertising and FDA prior review of ads were rejected by both the House and Senate.
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