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French MPs ponder new law to stop cold calls

Opt-out Bloctel system has not worked, says MP who proposed bill to stop nuisance telephone calls

Politicians were due to consider a new law to regulate telephone canvassing and put a stop to nuisance cold calls.

Under the plan due before the National Assembly's Economic Affairs Committee on Tuesday, it will be illegal for companies to contact potential customers for canvassing purposes unless they have expressly opted to receive such calls.

Pierre Cordier, Les Republicains' MP for the Ardennes who has proposed the bill, also suggested that telephone sales companies should use a unique telephone code - similar to numbers that start 08, or 09 - so that householders are aware at a glance that the incoming call is a sales call.

A further 60 MPs have given the bill their backing.

Currently, anyone who does not wish to receive cold calls has to subscribe to the Bloctel service, which is intended to opt them out of receiving canvassing calls. But many subscribers complain that Bloctel has failed to reduce the number of unwanted sales calls that they receive - even if they have passed on details of phone numbers to the service.

Some householders have said that they have been forced to disconnect their landline to avoid such calls.

According to a survey carried out by consumer watchdog UFC-Que Choisir six months after Bloctel became operational in June 2016, more than 90% of people were dissatisfied with the service, saying that they still received unwanted calls numerous times a week.

UFC-Que Choisir said that the sanctions were too weak to discourage operators.

Presenting his bill, Mr Cordier said: "There is no real will on the part of telephone operators in particular, to make Bloctel work. Our citizens are entitled to peace and quiet.

"To date, there have only been a few dozen fines against companies that canvass consumers who do not wish to receive those calls."

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