Washington, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation that will allow associations and companies to continue sending unsolicited faxes to their members and clients under loosened rules defining “existing business relationship.” The U.S. Senate passed a similar bill last week. President Bush is expected to sign the legislation by week’s end. In addition, the FCC granted an additional six-month stay, to January 9, 2006, for new FCC rules that were slated to take effect Friday. This action came in response to a request from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and the Fax Ban Coalition.
Should the President not sign the Junk Fax Prevention Act by Friday, the FCC extension would bar the proposed FCC fax ban from taking effect this week.
Jim Clark, ASAE Senior Vice President of Public Policy, says he believes the provisions critical to association members were covered in the legislation. “A critical part is the opt-out language,” he says. “Most of our members already provided the opt-out option, but this makes it more specific.”
The “Junk Fax Prevention Act” proved necessary due to new rules developed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2003 that would have prohibited commercial faxes sent without a recipient’s written consent. The Junk Fax Prevention Act requires that fax numbers be obtained directly from the recipient or from a public source where the recipient published the number, such as a Web site. It also ‘grandfathers’ fax numbers in the sender’s possession at the time the legislation is signed.
Clark says ASAE would likely provide some sort of FAQ document for members to help them comply with the newly revised rules once all the specifics are in place. He says ASAE members were invaluable in the campaign to revise the fax regulations.“You don’t (accomplish) these things without folks raising their voices. Our members were great at that and it made a difference,” he says. ASAE and the Fax Ban Coalition worked for two years to effect the changes.
“This legislation ends more than two years of work by hundreds of associations and businesses seeking to protect their ability to communicate information to their members and clients without impediment,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, CAE. “While the FCC has granted the request made by ASAE and The Fax Ban Coalition for a six-month stay, we are tremendously thankful that Congress made clear its opinion of the FCC’s proposed new rules, thus making the stay unnecessary. This bill is good for business and, with the opt-out requirement, it also protects consumer interests.”