The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has applied the brakes to rules restricting “junk” faxes that were to go into effect yesterday (Aug. 25) that had the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) and hundreds of others groups scrambling.
The new rules have been delayed until Jan. 1, 2005, and the FCC is saying that it will consider changing provisions that brought protests from dozens of non-profit-generating associations.
The now-delayed rules are actually aimed at cracking down on promoters who send unsolicited “junk” fax messages touting stocks, vacation packages, diet plans and the like. Associations would have been required to obtain written permission forms before faxing even their own members anything that resembled a sales pitch.
That process was well underway at countless U.S. associations.
Before the delay, however, the proposed rules brought complaints from associations – some with hundreds of thousands of members – that contended that by so narrowly defining what a sales solicitation is, the FCC was interfering with their ability to communicate with their members.
A broadly held interpretation – one shared by Mac Bryan, RVIA vice president of administration – was that prior permission would be needed to fax notices of conferences, seminars and meetings for which RVIA charges a fee.
Ditto for the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA).
Both trade associations had taken precautions by contacting and seeking permission from members’ and affiliates’ “official” association representatives. “We felt there was a good chance that some relief would be forthcoming,” Bryan said. “We didn’t want to go through our entire list and bother everybody, but we wanted to make sure we stayed in contact with at least one person in each organization. The rules were a little hazy, and it’s unlikely they would have had a great deal of effect in the real world. But we had to protect ourselves.”