Do-not-call Web site bombarded with sign-ups

Since the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched its free, national do-not-call registry on June 27, consumers who want to stop harassing telemarketing calls have registered more than 10 million telephone numbers -- 85 percent of which were registered online.

Telemarketers who call numbers on the list after Oct. 1 face penalties of up to US$11,000 per call, as well as possible consumer lawsuits. Consumers can sign up for the list by logging onto the site, www.donotcall.gov.

On June 27 alone, 7 million telephone numbers were logged into the FTC's online system, according to the agency. That caused the FTC's do-not-call registration Web site to slow to a crawl, according to San Mateo, Calif.-based Keynote Systems Inc., which offers e-commerce performance monitoring capabilities. Another 4.6 million telephone numbers were registered on June 28, and 2 million were registered Sunday.

"The highest sustained system access we've seen occurred Friday evening between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. EDT, when 158 telephone numbers were entered in the system per second," the FTC said in a statement on its Web site.

According to Keynote, the rate of traffic that was driven to the main site, as well as to various related sites, caused a significant slowdown, if not a failure of the site to keep up during the first day of registration.

Keynote's instant measurements from six cities around the U.S. -- New York, Boston, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco -- showed that the site was marginally accessible between 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. EDT. Keynote also said the response times for those able to access the FTC site from those cities was 25 seconds or more.

Eileen Harrington, an associate director at the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said the agency added several more servers to handle the heavy traffic.

David Torok, the FTC's Do Not Call project manager, said there was a problem with consumers receiving their confirmation e-mails because some of them were being filtered out by users' spam-blocking software. And, he said, if a consumer didn't respond to the confirmation e-mail within 72 hours, the telephone number wasn't added to the list.

Torok said the FTC contacted Internet service providers to ask them to adapt their systems to handle those e-mails. Torok said consumers who haven't received their confirmation e-mail within 72 hours should register by telephone.

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