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Emailed faxes don't violate the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced on Dec. 9 that emailed faxes aren't illegal under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). A spokesperson for the federal agency gave the FCC's reasoning for reaching such a conclusion when announcing their ruling that day.

FCC's spokesperson noted that this nuanced way of sending faxes via electronic mail is very different from ones that were traditionally transmitted using a phone line in the past. The spokesperson pointed out that the way that most individuals send faxes nowadays amounts to nothing more than an email.

The FCC spokesperson was asked what aspect of the TCPA regulators considered when deciding that emailed and phone faxes are different. That individual pointed out that the TCPA speaks of a telephone fax machine's ability to take images or text on a piece of paper and transmit that information over a phone line via an electronic signal. The person on the other end of the line is then capable of receiving a duplicate of whatever the originator sent them.

FCC's spokesperson admitted that there are many downsides to individuals sending others unsolicited telephone faxes. One is that it holds a recipient's fax machine hostage so that they cannot receive correspondence that they want to get. Another downside is that telephone faxes waste a recipient's supply of ink and paper. Faxes transmitted through e-mail don't do any of these.

While many individuals who have previously been sued for sending unsolicited faxes via email will welcome this latest ruling, they're not home free. There are plenty of other pieces of legislation including the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act of 2003 that faxes sent by email may violate.

An attorney can advise you of how this and other Minnesota statutes may protect you and your Vadnais Heights business if you've received unsolicited correspondence from others.

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