Fax it over — FCC pushes back deadline for new fax regulations

In a ruling late on Monday, the regulation that forces businesses to get written consent for any advertising or sales-related facsimiles with regards to an “established business relationship” has been pushed back until January 1, 2005.

Until that time, those sending faxes will not have to obtain expressed written consent, including signatures, from recipients with whom they have an established business relationship.

The regulation was to begin on Monday as part of the Federal Communication Commission and Federal Trade Commission’s new rule requiring companies to get expressed written permission in order to send a fax to a consumer and/or business.

However, the FCC released a Report and Order illustrating several of its new telemarketing and facsimile advertising and sales procedures which included the National Do Not Call Registry as well as the new facsimile rules.

After the Report and Order was released this past July 3, the Commission received filed comments from many organizations concerned about the new fax rules.

Based on the filed comments, the FCC ruled that these organizations needed additional time to secure written permission from individuals and businesses in the established business relationship portion of the new fax rule.

“We (the FCC) believe that, in light of this new information, the public interest would best be served by allowing senders of such advertisements additional time to obtain such express permission before new rules become effective.”

The FCC added that the ruling will allow the Commission the chance to consider any future petitions that could be made on the issue.

Regardless of the established business relationship extension, any company that intends on sending a facsimile still needs expressed written permission from recipients with whom they do not have a prior business relationship.

The new fax rule, adopted on June 26 by the FCC, requires that any business representatives intending on faxing advertisements or other business-related sales materials must get written, signed permission from the recipient.

The written permission must also include a statement clearly illustrating that the recipient consents to receiving these business materials at a fax number listed for every fax number listed on the consent.

Under the new regulation, a company will no longer be able to fax promotional advertisements or sales materials without getting a recipient’s prior approval unless there is a prior business relationship.

This rule applies to faxes sent by stand-alone machines, computerized fax servers and computers with attached modems. It does not apply to faxes sent as e-mail over the Internet.

Failure to comply with new facsimile rules will result in a $500 fine per infraction, as well as other FCC enforcement.

Business Editor Barry Graham can be reached at bgraham@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 251).

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