LinuxWorld Expo Calls Irk Alumni
Dec 12, 2003, 16:00 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
Re-Imagining Linux Platforms to Meet the Needs of Cloud Service Providers
By Brian Proffitt
A minor hue and cry was stirred in the Linux community late this
week with the arrival of apparently unsolicited, automated phone
calls from the organizers of LinuxWorld Expo.
But the calls, while not always welcome, were actually not
unsolicited and perfectly legal under the Telecommunications Act of
The call from LinuxWorld Expo's organizers, International Data
Group, Inc., used an automated message inviting LinuxWorld Expo
alumni back to next month's New York show as part of the Expo's
Linux Masters program. The message was dialed to any past
participants and attendees of LWE, including this reporter.
Readers contacted Linux Today and raised the concern that such
automated messages were considered illegal in the United States
under the aforementioned Telecommunications Act, which bans
unsolicited automated calls. Other readers brought up the National
Do Not Call Registry, as some calls were received on lines included
on that database. In my case, the call arrived on a line also
registered with the Indiana Do Not Call list.
So how did IDG get to make these calls and not break the
The National Do Not Call Registry is primarily governed by the
Telecommunications Act of 1991, which clearly states that a
telemarketer cannot "Initiate any telephone call to any residential
telephone line using an artificial or prerecorded voice to deliver
a message without the prior express consent of the called party,
unless the call is initiated for emergency purposes or is exempted
by sec. 64.1200(c)..."
But it is within the very definition of an "unsolicited call"
that IDG could make these calls. Later in the Act, it states
- "The term 'telephone solicitation' means the initiation of a
telephone call or message for the purpose of encouraging the
purchase or rental of, or investment in, property, goods, or
services, which is transmitted to any person, but such term does
not include a call or message
- "to any person with that person's prior express invitation or
- "to any person with whom the caller has an established business
- "by a tax-exempt nonprofit organization..."
And it is under the "established business relationship" that IDG
can make these calls.
"The law states that companies can contact consumers by phone if
there has been a business relationship between the two parties
within the last 18 months," explained Beth Wickenhiser, PR
Specialist for IDG World Expo, "All of the individuals contacted by
IDG World Expo have registered for a recent LinuxWorld Conference
& Expo event; therefore, there is an established business
relationship in place."
Wickenhiser also maintained that the National Do Not Call
Registry only applies to residential lines, not business phone
numbers. Upon contacting the Indiana State Attorney General's
office, it was learned that a similar clause is in place for the
state's Do Not Call database as well.
"The voice messaging campaign was designed to ensure our
LinuxWorld Conference & Expo alumni are aware of the
fast-approaching early bird registration discount for the upcoming
event," Wickenhiser added. "If an individual does not want to be
contacted with this kind of information in the future, they can ask
to be removed from IDG World Expo's list by calling LinuxWorld