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WASHINGTON – CUNA is serious about protecting its faxing powers, to the point that it would consider litigation against the Federal Communications Commission. It may not come to that however. The FCC has agreed to a limited reconsideration of its Do-Not-Call rules regarding unsolicited faxes. The agency also extended the effective date from Aug. 25, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2005. The new rule would change the FCC’s standard that an established business relationship was sufficient as express permission to receive unsolicited facsimile advertising to requiring express written and signed permission to send unsolicited faxes. “The recipient must clearly indicate that he or she consents to receiving such faxed advertisements from the company to which permission is given, and must provide the individual’s or business’s fax number to which faxes may be sent,” the FCC wrote. The reconsideration notice stated, “The comments filed after the release of the Report and Order indicate that many organizations may need additional time to secure this written permission from individuals and businesses to whom they fax advertisements. We believe that, in light of this new information, the public interest would best be served by allowing senders of such advertisements additional time to obtain such express permission before the new rules become effective.” Though the rule probably would not affect individual credit unions much, it would have an impact on CUNA, which has been lobbying to reverse the new rule. According to CUNA Associate General Counsel Mary Dunn, CUNA and other opponents’ analysis that the rule was not required by law has prevailed sufficiently to warrant a stay. “I think the agency saw the error of its ways,” she commented. CUNA, which sends about one-third of its communications via fax, has until 2005 to persuade the regulators. The group will be meeting with each of the five commissioners in the meantime and filing a petition, either separately or as a coalition, to ask the FCC to reconsider the substance of its rule. If they cannot receive the relief they seek through the agency, Dunn said CUNA is contemplating litigation. The extension only applies to the written permission for unsolicited fax advertisements provision, the FCC emphasized. The move will provide the agency more time to consider any petitions for reconsideration or other filings. The FCC also retained the right to extend the effective date even further if warranted.

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