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FCC Extends Deadline on "NO-FAX" Rules

On August 18, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has extended to January 1, 2005, the effective date of its new rules...
August 19, 2003

Summary of FCC Action on "NO-FAX"

On August 18, 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it has extended to January 1, 2005, the effective date of its new rules requiring written consent be obtained before sending advertising faxes.

The FCC said the extension of time permits entities sending fax advertisements more time to comply with the new rules and obtain written consent and signatures from parties to whom they wish to fax. The FCC also said the extension will give it time to consider any petitions for reconsideration and other filings that may be made on this issue.

This extension only affects the NO-FAXING portion of a new package of rules adopted by the FCC on July 25, 2003. NO-CALL provisions are still active and effective as of October 1, 2003.

The FCC "appears" to be giving people additional time to collect authorizations - not backing away from their position that they adopted on July 25. At the same time, FCC is accepting comments until August 25. PIA will be filing additional comments with the FCC and continuing to work with others on getting Congress to step in and clarify this legislatively.

As PIA has and will continue to advise the FCC, their latest version strips people of their EBR. It redefines "unsolicited," "advertisements," and the timing of a valid authorization. By so doing, the FCC has greatly expanded what falls under the category of "advertisement" to now include material PIA members and associations would send (or be required to send) as an informational update.

What It Means to PIA Affiliates and PIA Members: The best course of action is for PIA associations and members to continue their pattern of compliance with their current state laws on this matter, and where absent, the prior FCC rule on this issue.

  • In effect, this means: no faxing one-on-one or en masse of unsolicited advertisements to members of the public that you do not have a pre-existing established business relationship (EBR) with.  Further -- as has been the case before this FCC revised (and now stayed) rule was issued -- be guided by your state laws and insurance law that clearly defines for you what "unsolicited," "advertisements" and EBR are. NONE of these are the same for ALL businesses when it comes to "customers."
  • All of the information supplied by PIA affiliates to members expressing what the current status of the applicable state law is STILL applies.
  • Affiliates can continue to communicate by fax until we further determine what the actual compliance response is that FCC may expect during this "stay" period.
  • We will advise you of what can be ascertained as to the FCC's actual goal in this action. Their documents DO NOT make that plain. We also continue to encourage you to move to e-mail as your primary means of communication, but be advised new restrictions on email may eventually occur.

By no means are we "out of the woods" on this issue. The FCC granted a limited reprieve - they did not back down or repeal anything.

PIA National will provide you with additional guidance, as needed and as you request. In addition, we will be available to discuss these issues in depth with those of you who will be attending the Milwaukee meetings.

For those of you who have questions or wish to share information on FCC NO-FAX and NO-CALL, PIA National's staff members assigned to work on this issue have a special e-mail address. Send your related correspondence to FCCteam@pianet.org  

Related Links:
Opinion developed in conjunction with PIA National's counsel (8/19/03)
FCC Order
FCC press release

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