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Residents say calls unwanted, annoying

A federal judge’s ruling that a telemarketing Do-Not-Callregistry is unconstitutional is getting a busy signal from arearesidents.

Shoppers and participants at this weekend’s Ole Brook Festivalrejected Denver U.S. District Judge Edward W. Nottingham’s rulinglast week that the federal registry was unconstitutional on freedomof speech grounds. He said the list applies to businesses but notcharities.

“I think we should have a right to say whose calls and come onthrough and which ones should be blocked,” said Brookhaven residentLisa Mitchell.

Mitchell has signed up for both the federal and stateDo-Not-Call lists. State officials have said the state list,scheduled to take effect Oct. 1, should not be affected by thefederal ruling.

Fellow resident Janet Smith drew a distinction between freedomof speech and privacy rights.

“Freedom of speech is out in public,” Smith said. “When you callsomebody, that’s invasion of privacy.”

While commercial call blocking systems are available forpurchase, Smith said more needs to be done to prevent unwantedcalls. She suggested telemarketers have a certain telephone numberprefix that could be used for blocking.

“They need to come up with some kind of system for people whochoose not to have it come into their homes,” Smith said.

Joni Culpepper, of Brookhaven, said homeowners should have a sayin stopping unwanted calls.

“When do my rights come in into play as far as preventing thattype thing,” asked Culpepper. “I deserve the same rights.”

More than 50 million people have signed up for the federalregistry.

President Bush was expected to sign legislation to give theFederal Trade Commission the authority to operate the registry. Dueto court action however, the move was not expected to blocktelemarketing calls.

Roy Smith, of Natchez, was hopeful that the Do-Not-Call registrywill be upheld. He dismissed contentions that telemarketing callsare a violation of the callers’ freedom of speech.

“They violate me every time they call,” Smith said.

As she has husband Sam watched granddaughter Hayley play on aninflatable slide Saturday afternoon, Carolyn Oldham said they hadnot signed up for the no-call lists. She said they probably should,but a caller ID system lessens the inconvenience at their home.

“If it says out of area, I just don’t pick it up,” Oldhamsaid.

Even with caller ID, fellow Brookhaven resident Beatrice Tynersaid the telemarketing calls can be annoying.

Tyner said the calls are especially bad on the elderly, who maydifficulty getting up to answer the phone. For other people, thecalls are a case of bad timing.

“It’s always when you just get home from work or on your lunchhour,” Tyner said.

Tyner was also hopeful the telemarketing list dispute would besolved quickly.

“I think they need to go ahead and get something done about it,”Tyner said.