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Help Support Changes to the FCC Do-Not-Fax Rule!

(June 28, 2004) Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that would restore the 'established business relationship' provision governing fax communications that was repealed last year by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

In 2003, the FCC promulgated regulations that ban all unsolicited advertising sent by fax unless recipients have provided senders with written consent that includes the recipients' signature and the fax number they use. A charity must have explicit permission for each individual fax number. If an individual or organization changes fax numbers, then the charity must receive permission all over again.

Under the regulations, having an established business relationship with the recipient does not constitute permission. In addition, membership in an association, such as AFP, does not provide permission for fax advertising.

While the FCC has bowed to pressure from nonprofits and Congress and delayed implementation of the regulations, the regulations will take effect in 2005 without legislative action.

H.R. 4600, the Junk Fax Prevention Act, and its companion bill, S. 2603, reestablish the concept of the 'established business relationship' and allow for communications where such a relationship exists. The bills require a mandatory 'opt-out' option for all unsolicited faxes. However, they also allow the FCC to make the decision to waive the opt-out provision for tax-exempt organizations that are faxing members on issues related to their exempt purpose.

Without the legislation, charities would have to receive explicit permission from donors just to fax them solicitation forms, legal documents, information about programs or services, special event invitations and donor or membership data.

H.R. 4600 has already been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee and may go to the House floor for a vote after the July 4 recess. S. 2603 was just introduced.

Members are strongly encouraged to write letters to their representatives and senators urging them to support the bill. Following are a sample letter and additional information.

What You Can Do

  1. Determine who your members of Congress are (senators and representatives). If you don't know, click on the links below to find out. House: http://www.house.gov Senate: http://www.senate.gov
  2. Personalize the letter below. Talk about the impact that the FCC rule will have on your organization. If you're sending letters to both senators and representatives, be sure to use the right language (i.e. H.R. 4600 is the bill in the House; S. 2603 in the Senate)
  3. Fax your letter to the Washington, D.C. office (preferable) or district office.
  4. Forward this email on to other interested colleagues.
  5. For more information about this issue, contact paffairs@afpnet.org or click on the link below for an earlier story in eWire: /Audiences/PublicPolicyIssueDetail.cfm?ItemNumber=1077 

Sample Letter

The Honorable ________, The House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative ___________:

OR

The Honorable ________, The Senate, Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator ___________:

I am writing to encourage you to support H.R. 4600 [S. 2603], the Junk Fax Protection Act of 2004. Without this legislation, my organization, [ORGANIZATION NAME], will be significantly burdened by new FCC rules.

This bill will restore the 'established business relationship' (EBR) provision governing facsimile communications, which was repealed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the summer of 2003. The FCC repealed the EBR exception that allowed fax communications among parties in which a previous business relationship existed. As part of the FCC's rewrite of its regulations to implement the 'do-not-call' rules, the FCC determined that this exception for faxes had no basis in law, despite the existence of these regulations for almost a decade.

While I am pleased that the FCC stayed implementation of these changes until Jan. 1, 2005, I am troubled that should they ultimately go into effect, these changes would create a significant economic and administrative burden for the nonprofit community.

Please support the nonprofit community's efforts in overturning the FCC's do-not-fax regulations by co-sponsoring this legislation restoring the EBR.

More important, I urge your support of the legislation when it comes to the floor for a full vote.

Again, I ask you to stand behind the nonprofit community by co-sponsoring and voting for H.R. 4600 [S. 2603] to protect fax communications between charities and their members and donors.

Thank for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Sincerely,

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