(c) Protection of subscriber privacy rights
(1) Rulemaking proceeding required
Within 120 days after December 20, 1991, the Commission shall initiate a rulemaking proceeding concerning the need to protect residential telephone subscribers’ privacy rights to avoid receiving telephone solicitations to which they object. The proceeding shall—
compare and evaluate alternative methods and procedures (including the use of electronic databases, telephone network technologies, special directory markings, industry-based or company-specific “do not call” systems, and any other alternatives, individually or in combination) for their effectiveness in protecting such privacy rights, and in terms of their cost and other advantages and disadvantages;
(B) evaluate the categories of public and private entities that would have the capacity to establish and administer such methods and procedures;
(C) consider whether different methods and procedures may apply for local telephone solicitations, such as local telephone solicitations of small businesses or holders of second class mail permits;
(D) consider whether there is a need for additional Commission authority to further restrict telephone solicitations, including those calls exempted under subsection (a)(3) of this section, and, if such a finding is made and supported by the record, propose specific restrictions to the Congress; and
(E) develop proposed regulations to implement the methods and procedures that the Commission determines are most effective and efficient to accomplish the purposes of this section.
Not later than 9 months after December 20, 1991, the Commission shall conclude the rulemaking proceeding initiated under paragraph (1) and shall prescribe regulations to implement methods and procedures for protecting the privacy rights described in such paragraph in an efficient, effective, and economic manner and without the imposition of any additional charge to telephone subscribers.
(3) Use of database permitted
The regulations required by paragraph (2) may require the establishment and operation of a single national database to compile a list of telephone numbers of residential subscribers who object to receiving telephone solicitations, and to make that compiled list and parts thereof available for purchase. If the Commission determines to require such a database, such regulations shall—
(A) specify a method by which the Commission will select an entity to administer such database;
(B) require each common carrier providing telephone exchange service, in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Commission, to inform subscribers for telephone exchange service of the opportunity to provide notification, in accordance with regulations established under this paragraph, that such subscriber objects to receiving telephone solicitations;
(C) specify the methods by which each telephone subscriber shall be informed, by the common carrier that provides local exchange service to that subscriber, of (i) the subscriber’s right to give or revoke a notification of an objection under sub paragraph (A), and (ii) the methods by which such right may be exercised by the subscriber;
(D) specify the methods by which such objections shall be collected and added to the database;
(E) prohibit any residential subscriber from being charged for giving or revoking such notification or for being included in a database compiled under this section;
(F) prohibit any person from making or transmitting a telephone solicitation to the telephone number of any subscriber included in such database;
(i) the methods by which any person desiring to make or transmit telephone solicitations will obtain access to the database, by area code or local exchange prefix, as required to avoid calling the telephone numbers of subscribers included in such database; and
(ii) the costs to be recovered from such persons;
(H) specify the methods for recovering, from persons accessing such database, the costs involved in identifying, collecting, updating, disseminating, and selling, and other activities relating to, the operations of the database that are incurred by the entities carrying out those activities;
(I) specify the frequency with which such database will be updated and specify the method by which such updating will take effect for purposes of compliance with the regulations prescribed under this subsection;
(J) be designed to enable States to use the database mechanism selected by the Commission for purposes of administering or enforcing State law;
(K) prohibit the use of such database for any purpose other than compliance with the requirements of this section and any such State law and specify methods for protection of the privacy rights of persons whose numbers are included in such database; and
(L) require each common carrier providing services to any person for the purpose of making telephone solicitations to notify such person of the requirements of this section and the regulations thereunder.
(4) Considerations required for use of database method
If the Commission determines to require the database mechanism described in paragraph (3), the Commission shall—
(A) in developing procedures for gaining access to the database, consider the different needs of telemarketers conducting business on a national, regional, State, or local level;
(B) develop a fee schedule or price structure for recouping the cost of such database that recognizes such differences and—
(i) reflect the relative costs of providing a national, regional, State, or local list of phone numbers of subscribers who object to receiving telephone solicitations;
(ii) reflect the relative costs of providing such lists on paper or electronic media; and
(iii) not place an unreasonable financial burden on small businesses; and
(i) whether the needs of telemarketers operating on a local basis could be met through special markings of area white pages directories, and
(ii) if such directories are needed as an adjunct to database lists prepared by area code and local exchange prefix.
(5) Private right of action
A person who has received more than one telephone call within any 12-month period by or on behalf of the same entity in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection may, if otherwise permitted by the laws or rules of court of a State bring in an appropriate court of that State—
(A) an action based on a violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection to enjoin such violation,
(B) an action to recover for actual monetary loss from such a violation, or to receive up to $500 in damages for each such violation, whichever is greater, or
(C) both such actions.
It shall be an affirmative defense in any action brought under this paragraph that the defendant has established and implemented, with due care, reasonable practices and procedures to effectively prevent telephone solicitations in violation of the regulations prescribed under this subsection. If the court finds that the defendant willfully or knowingly violated the regulations prescribed under this subsection, the court may, in its discretion, increase the amount of the award to an amount equal to not more than 3 times the amount available under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
(6) Relation to subsection
The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to permit a communication prohibited by subsection of this section.