FCC Delays US ‘Junk’ Fax Ban

20 August 2003

A US ban on ‘junk’ faxes due to come into force on Monday next week has been postponed for 16 months.

The Federal Communications Commission shelved the measure until January 1 2005, giving more time for the agency to respond to opposition and for organisations to prepare themselves.

In June, the FCC announced that the faxing of unsolicited commercial material without prior written permission from the recipient would be illegal. Previously, organisations could fax without asking, provided there was an “established business relationship” between sender and receiver.

The measure’s approval received little attention at the time because it coincided with the FCC’s decision to join the Federal Trade Commission’s do-not-call telemarketing register [WAMN: 30-Jun-03]. However, it has since caused concern among businesses and other bodies.

“Every Boy Scout troop is now prohibited from sending notices about this week's meeting,” complained Jerald Jacobs, a lawyer for the American Society of Association Executives, which is lobbying for non-profit groups to be excluded from the ban.

Businesses fear the rule is so all-encompassing that it will interfere with everyday work and place an especially heavy burden on fax-reliant small companies.

Opponents of the law claim gathering all the required permissions by Monday would have been impossible, hence the FCC’s decision to delay implementation.

However, regulators insist the measure is necessary to comply with legislation from 1991. As a result, the FCC may decide that the only way to change the requirements is for Congress to change the law.

Data sourced from: USA Today; additional content by WARC staff