The Senate Commerce Committee's Trade, Tourism, and Economic Development Subcommittee will hold a hearing at 2:30pm on Wednesday, April 13, 2005 on S. 714, The Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 in room 253 of the Russell Building.
Gordon H. SmithSenator
STATEMENT OF SENATOR GORDON H. SMITH CHAIRMAN, SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRADE, TOURISM, AND ECOMOMIC DEVELOPMENT SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING ON S. 714, “JUNK FAX PREVENTION ACT OF 2005” 4/13/2005
I thank the witnesses for being here today. Today’s hearing will focus on S. 714, the Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005. I thank my colleagues on the Senate Commerce Committee (Senators Inouye, Stevens, Burns, Dorgan, Lautenberg, Snowe, and Sununu) for co-sponsoring this legislation with me.
S. 714 would create a statutory exception to the current communications law prohibiting the faxing of unsolicited advertisements to individuals without their “prior express invitation or permission.” This bill would not legalize the sending of junk faxes or blast faxes which have been prohibited for 13 years and will continue to be prohibited under this bill. This bill is about continuing legitimate fax communications between businesses and customers
S. 714 will strengthen existing laws by providing consumers the ability to prevent unsolicited fax advertisements and provide greater Congressional oversight of enforcement efforts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This bill will also help businesses by allowing them to continue to send faxes to their customers in a manner that has proven successful with both businesses and consumers.
In July of 2003, the FCC reconsidered its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules and elected to eliminate the ability for businesses to contact their customers even where there exists an established business relationship. The effect of the FCC’s rule would be to prevent a business from sending a fax solicitation to any person, whether it is a supplier or customer, without first obtaining prior written consent. This approach, while seemingly sensible, would impose significant costs on businesses in the form of extensive record keeping. Recognizing the problems created by this rule, the Commission has twice delayed the effective date, with the current extension of stay expiring on June 30, 2005.
The purpose of this legislation is to preserve the established business relationship exception currently recognized under the TCPA. In addition, this bill will allow consumers to opt out of receiving further unsolicited faxes. This is a new consumer protection that does not exist under the TCPA today.
We believe that this bipartisan bill strikes the appropriate balance in providing significant protections to consumers from unwanted unsolicited fax advertisements and preserves the many benefits that result from legitimate fax communications. We have heard from hundreds of associations representing tens of thousands of large and small businesses on the importance of swiftly passing this legislation to avoid interfering with legitimate communications
In the 108th Congress, this legislation passed both the Senate and House but was not signed into law prior to the adjournment of Congress. We hope that both the Senate and House can pass S. 714 in a timely manner, prior to June 30, 2005, when the FCC’s stay expires.
I want to especially welcome one of my constituents, Mr. Jeb Bladine, the Publisher and Editor of the News-Register in McMinnville, Oregon who is here to testify about how this bill will affect small businesses like his. Again, I want to thank the witnesses that are here today.
Witness Panel 1
Mr. Steve Kirsch
Mr. Dave Feeken
Mr. Jon Bladine