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U.S. Charities Now Closer To Fax Rule Exemptions

(July 26, 2004) The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation (H.R. 4600) on July 20 that would restore the 'established business relationship' provision in the Federal Communications Commissions' (FCC) regulations.

Without the provision, charities would have been required to obtain 'prior written consent' from all individuals before faxing them documents. The provision had been in effect for 10 years until the FCC repealed it earlier in 2004 as part of its new do-not-fax rule.

The rule did not contain any exemptions for 501(c)(3) organizations and donor/member relations, so all types of fax communications (membership forms, legal forms for gifts, etc.) would have been impermissible without the individual's express written consent. Additionally, the rule required that whenever an individual changed fax numbers, written consent would have to be re-established.

H.R. 4600, the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2004, also requires a mandatory 'opt-out' for unsolicited faxes sent to individuals under the rubric of the 'established business relationship.' Thus, even individuals who have given their written consent to a charity must still be given the opportunity with every fax to be placed on the charity's do-not-fax list. In addition, the bill allows the FCC to waive the opt-out provision for tax-exempt organizations faxing members on issues related to their exempt purpose.

H.R. 4600 passed the House by unanimous voice vote. The Senate version of the bill has been referrred to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and a mark-up of the legislation is expected soon.

AFP sent a call-to-action and sample Congressional letter in the June 28, 2004, issue of eWire, and thanks all members who wrote to their members of Congress. AFP also thanks the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) for its work on this issue.

For more information and to view the letter, refer to the following page.

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