Commercial Faxes

In 1991, the FCC established rules against sending unsolicited commercial faxes. The rules allow for unsolicited faxes if an existing business relationship exists between the sender and the recipient. In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission amended these rules to require all commercial fax senders to first obtain written and signed consent from the recipient before they are legally authorized to send a fax. Congress has since prohibited formal consent requirements, allowing faxing between established business contacts.

AAF Position
Faxing is an important part of normal business operations, and implementing written consent rules would unnecessarily harm many businesses. Obtaining written and signed consent, as well as maintaining records on who companies may fax, would be costly and time-consuming. This rule provides no public interest benefit. Surreptitious fax senders will not change their practices because of law changes. Commercial faxes sent to existing customers are not a problem that Congress needs to "solve."

Some consumer groups consider all faxes to be a nuisance and aim to pass laws restrictive enough to prohibit virtually all of commercial faxing. Because these groups see faxes as an unwanted annoyance, they are willing to make commercial faxing a difficult and cumbersome process.

The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 (S. 714) was signed into law on July 9, 2005. Introduced by Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., this bill codifies existing Federal Communications Commission regulations prohibiting unsolicited commercial faxing but allows for faxes to be sent when there is an existing business relationship.

A 2005 bill introduced in the California Senate and signed into law requires fax senders to obtain written and signed consent before sending a fax to a California resident or company. A U.S. District Court in California ruled that the federal Junk Fax Prevention Act supercedes the state law. However, a ban on intrastate faxes is still valid.

Last updated: April 2007

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