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Congressional action to stop junk faxes helps small business          Send a link to a friend

Allows small businesses to communicate with customers

[JULY 30, 2005]  WASHINGTON -- With the passage of the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 (S.714), Congress has acted to stop junk faxes while ensuring that small businesses can communicate with their customers. The legislation will ensure that businesses can send faxes to customers with whom they already have an established business relationship without having to obtain written prior approval. The bill has been sent to President Bush for his signature.

"The passage of the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 by both the U.S. House and Senate is good for small businesses and their customers," said Thomas M. Sullivan, chief counsel for advocacy with the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration. "Junk faxes remain illegal, but real estate agents can still fax listings based on a telephone request, jobbers can fax updated price lists to stores, and caterers can fax menus to brides-to-be. It's bipartisan win-win legislation that's good for all concerned," he said.

The legislation prohibits sending unsolicited fax advertisements to anyone who has requested that they not be sent. Unsolicited faxes can be sent if the senders have an established business relationship with the customer and the fax contains a conspicuous notice on its first page that the recipient may request not to be sent any further unsolicited faxes. To prevent third-party mass marketers from buying fax lists, businesses must obtain fax numbers either directly from the recipient or from a published source such as a directory, advertisement or Internet site.

The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 overturns overly broad regulations issued by Federal Communications Commission in July 2003. Those regulations would have made it illegal for businesses to send faxes to even longtime customers unless they had specific written permission to send a fax to a particular number. The FCC regulations were opposed by a broad range of over 600 businesses and trade associations that joined the "Fax Ban Coalition" organized to oppose and reverse the FCC's regulations.

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In a May 2004 letter to the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Advocacy identified the FCC regulations as overly burdensome on small businesses and in need of reform. The letter noted that the rule "places a substantial burden on manufacturers and other businesses by compelling them to obtain the signed written consent of each recipient before any commercial fax may be sent" and that the rule should be modified "to continue the established business relationship exemption."

The Office of Advocacy, the "small business watchdog" of the government, examines the role and status of small business in the economy and independently represents the views of small business to federal agencies, Congress and the president. It is the source for small-business statistics presented in user-friendly formats, and it funds research into small-business issues. For more information, visit

[News release from the Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration]

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