Politicians, bureaucrats, and advocates often put do-not-call lists forward as protection
for privacy. But these protections against unwanted marketing are the opposite of
protections for privacy.
To be on a do-not-call list, users must give information about themselves to
the governments who may then use the information as they see fit. Online users of
the federal do-not-call database created by the Federal Trade Commission, for example,
must submit an e-mail address, allowing government officials to correlate them to phone
numbers. According to the FTC's Privacy Act notice, this information "may be made
available or referred on an automatic or other basis to other federal, state, or
local government authorities for regulatory, compliance, or law enforcement purposes."
Depending on their design, do-not-call databases may also be shared with marketers.
A do-not-e-mail list would very likely become a source of e-mail addresses for spammers
as soon as one bad actor got a hold of the list.
Government do-not-call listing may reduce unwanted marketing, but it does so at a
cost to other interests, including privacy.
National Do Not Call Registry Web site, Federal Trade Commission
Proposed notice of Privacy Act system amendments,
Federal Trade Commission (June 24, 2003)
The Price of Peace: Itís Privacy, Jim Harper, National Review Online
(May 29, 2002)