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Bush signs 'do-not-call' bill into law

FCC vows enforcement

FCC vows enforcement

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President Bush signs a bill approving the 'Do Not Call' list.
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Even though Bush signed the do not call registry into law, controversy still surrounds the measure. CNN's Fred Katayama reports
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Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Amid ongoing legal battles, President Bush signed into law Monday a bill giving the Federal Trade Commission the authority to administer a new do-not-call registry -- a move opposed by telemarketers.

Bush said the move was necessary to cut down on "intrusive, annoying, unwelcome telephone solicitations."

"The American people should be free to restrict these calls," Bush added.

Separately, the Federal Communications Commission announced Monday it would begin enforcing the do-not-call rules against telemarketers starting Wednesday. Telemarketers that call numbers on the list could face fines, FCC officials said.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Michael Powell said its rules "complement and expand on" the FTC rules.

"FCC rules have not been disturbed by recent court cases," Powell said.

And the Supreme Court on Monday rejected an emergency appeal from telemarketers seeking to block the FCC from playing a role in enforcing the registry. Without comment, Justice Stephen Breyer denied the request from the American Telemarketers Association.

Despite Bush's signature and the FCC announcement, it's not clear the law will stand because of other court challenges to the registry.

Lawmakers rushed the bill through the House and Senate last week after a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled the FTC lacked the authority to run the do-not-call registry. More than 50 million phone numbers are on the list.

Supporters of the list hoped the bill would clear the way for the FTC to start implementing the rule.

However Thursday, in Denver, Colorado, a second federal court, ruled that the rule infringed on telemarketers' free speech rights.

U.S. District Judge Edward Nottingham agreed with telemarketers who argued the FTC unfairly favors one kind of speech over another since the list applies to telemarketers but not to nonprofit organizations, politicians and pollsters.

The FTC filed a notice of appeal Friday and a motion for an emergency stay of Nottingham's order that would allow it to start enforcing the registry.

And Powell said his agency -- the FCC -- expects telemarketers in possession of the do-not-call list not to phone those numbers listed come Wednesday.

FTC officials also said that several provisions of "do-not-call" rules were not affected by the court's order and will go into effect as planned on Wednesday. Eileen Harrington, FTC director of marketing practices, said those include:

• When a telemarketer calls a residence, a person or recorded voice must begin talking within two seconds after the consumer answers.

• Telemarketers will not be allowed to charge customers' credit cards or other accounts without the customer's permission.

• And, starting in January, telemarketers will not be able to block their phone numbers on outgoing calls, which will allow consumers to identify them using caller ID.

--CNN's Julie Vallese and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

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