House Passes Junk-Fax Bill

A bill that would grant fax marketers relief from a stringent opt-in rule cleared a key legislative hurdle yesterday with its unanimous passage in the House of Representatives.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Fred Upton, R-MI, said he expected the Senate Commerce Committee to consider similar legislation this week. After Friday, Congress will break until Sept. 7 for the Democratic and Republican national conventions and its traditional summer break.

Upton's Junk Fax Prevention Act, H.R. 4600, would overturn a Federal Communications Commission requirement that faxers have written permission from consumers before sending marketing faxes. It would maintain the status quo -- in which faxers can send solicitations to those with whom they have an existing business relationship -- but would require all such solicitations to include opt-out information.

"The bill does not overturn the ban on the faxing of unsolicited advertisements," Upton said in a statement. "That has been outlawed since the passage of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 -- and this bill does nothing to change that."

The FCC had planned to implement the written-permission requirement last summer but delayed after businesses -- particularly real estate agents and publications -- and nonprofit associations complained. However, the FCC only pushed back implementation of the rule until Jan. 1.

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