WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sen. Gordon Smith's Junk Fax Prevention Act of 2005 was the subject of a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Trade, Tourism and Economic Development, which he chairs.

"There is no sense in regulating fax machines into obscurity," Smith said. "Consumers can depend on protections from unwanted unsolicited faxes, and businesses can expect to contact established patrons."

In July 2003, the Federal Communications Commission reconsidered its Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules and issued a rule eliminating the ability of businesses to contact their customers even where an established business relationship exists. The FCC's rule would prevent businesses from sending fax solicitations, whether to a supplier or customer, without first obtaining written consent, imposing significant costs on businesses.

"While merely a nuisance to some users, junk faxes can be quite an expense for others when allowed to run out of control," said Smith. "We have a balanced bill that will allow fax communication to remain at home and at work."

Smith's legislation would ensure that the 1992 FCC order permitting businesses and associations to send unsolicited facsimile advertisements where there exists an established business relationship will remain law. It would also provide consumers with additional protections, including the opportunity to opt out of faxes. The act was to be considered Thursday during a full Senate Commerce Committee mark-up session.

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