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August 21, 2003

Controversial FCC ruling delayed

Strong protests from the nation's business community have led the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) to delay until January 1, 2005 the implementation of a controversial new federal regulation governing the right of businesses to send faxes.

The new regulation, which was scheduled to be implemented later this month, is a part of the FCC's regulations surrounding the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act. The act, which includes the national do-not-call registry, seeks to prevent consumers from receiving unsolicited advertisements over phone lines.

The regulation will require written consent in order to send any fax that is considered an unsolicited advertisement. The consent must include the specific fax number to which faxes may be sent. For companies or individuals using multiple fax numbers, each number must be listed on the consent.

Kerry Kirwan, a legislative analyst for The Council, said The Council is concerned about the regulation and its effects on businesses. The Council is still evaluating the new rule to determine its precise likely impact.

"While the delay may help businesses prepare to implement the new law, the regulation still places an overwhelming burden on businesses which now have to collect permission from all their clients to send legitimate business faxes," Kirwan said.

In addition, Kirwan noted that the regulation is ambiguous in defining what advertising is.

"There are enough business relationships in which a consent to communicate via fax is strongly and clearly implied. That makes this new regulation both unwarranted and needlessly burdensome," Kirwan said.