Finally, on an issue unrelated to COVID-19, the U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has finally resolved a number of issues and appeals related to a nearly 15-year old effort to regulate solicited fax advertisements.
Here’s the story in brief. In 2006, the FCC adopted its Solicited Fax Rule, a regulation that was intended to extend the opt-out notice requirements in the Junk Fax Protection Act to include “solicited advertisements,” that is, those sent with the recipient’s prior invitation or permission. (The Junk Fax Protection Act had already implemented opt-out notice requirements for unsolicited advertisements.)
In 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that the Solicited Fax Rule was unlawful because it exceeded the Commission’s statutory authority under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Accordingly, the Commission eliminated the rule in 2018. However, a group of plaintiffs filed an application for a review of the Bureau’s 2018 Dismissal Order, arguing that the Solicited Fax Rule should not have been eliminated.
In an Order released in mid-March, the FCC upheld its decision to eliminate the rule based on the Court’s finding of the Commission’s lack of statutory authority. The Order also dismissed as moot 10 additional applications for review of the rule dismissal and one petition for consideration of the dismissal.