1800 East Oakton Street
Des Plaines, Illinois 60018-2187
FAX 847.296.3769

August 1, 2003

The Honorable Janice D. Schakowsky
U.S. House of Representatives
515 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-1309

RE: FCC Ban on Non-Profit Use of Faxes to Communicate with Members

Dear Representative Schakowsky:

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) is a nonprofit association headquartered in your district in Des Plaines, Illinois, representing more than 30,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professionals. Our members are individuals committed to seeing that every American worker has the best possible opportunity to go home each day healthy and safe from their jobs. The Society is both the largest professional safety and health organization and, having been founded in 1911, in existence the longest.

ASSE is writing you to express our concern about the recent actions taken by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to amend the regulations implementing the Telephone Consumer Protection Act of 1991 (TCPA). The proposed changes are scheduled to go into effect on August 25, 2003 -- 30 days after they were published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2003.

Without the fully considered views of the nonprofit community, the FCC has modified current law by doing away with the "established business relationship" provision pertaining to fax advertisements. As a result, associations will have to require "expressed written consent" from each of their members prior to sending a fax advertisement, including dues renewal statements and notices of upcoming educational events.

This new and entirely unnecessary reading of the TCPA prohibits any person or entity from sending any fax that contains an unsolicited advertisement, which is defined as
any material advertising the commercial availability or quality of any property, good, or services which is transmitted to any person without that person's prior express invitation or permission.

As a result, the established relationship our members have with ASSE that have, since the beginning of the Society, always assumed permission to communicate with them, is no longer sufficient to permit faxes to be transmitted. This valuable tool to communicate with our members will be lost unless ASSE incurs new administrative, record- keeping and economic burdens.

Of particular concern is that ASSE offers a great many educational opportunities for our members to advance their professional capabilities in improving workplace safety and healthy. The professionalism of individuals in safety and health is assured through the certification process, which requires annual course work to keep individuals up to date with technological and scientific advances. If this rule becomes effective, when unplanned changes in scheduling and course offerings occur suddenly or our members want to sign up for courses at the last minute, a fax may be the only way to contact them or provide them with necessary information in time. If the fax is about a seminar or course offering, it would be difficult for someone whose responsibility it is to enforce this new provision not to construe it as an advertisement. With penalties reaching $11,000 per unauthorized fax, this is a risk that ASSE cannot take.

An example of the unreasonable reach of this new regulation is the position already taken by the FCC that our members may not call us and verbally ask us to fax them something. The FCC requires a written authorization.

ASSE urges you to take legislative action to reverse this ill-conceived FCC initiative. Unlike each of us in our homes who are tired of being called by unsolicited business, ASSE's members have a relationship with us that they have actively pursued. More importantly, their continued positive view of ASSE is limit enough on our communications. When we contact them too much, they let us know. The federal government need not step into this already established relationship where ASSE is already keenly aware of when our members' have heard too much from us.

Thank you for your time and attention to this concern. If ASSE can provide you with any further information, please be sure to let us know. We would be happy to work with you to ensure that the FCC does not succeed in coming between ASSE and our members.


Fred Fortman
Executive Director

Click here to go back to the Government Affairs Index
Click here
to go back to the ASSE Federal Statements and Testimony page