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FCC Strictly Interprets TCPA in Granting Amerifactors' Petition

In a declaratory ruling issued Monday, the Federal Communications Commission held that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition on unsolicited fax advertisements does not apply to a fax received through an online fax service. The declaratory ruling responds to a petition filed by Amerifactors Financial Group in 2017 seeking this ruling.

The FCC concluded that an online fax service is not a “telephone facsimile machine” as defined in the TCPA because it does not transcribe the fax automatically onto paper and does not cause the harm that Congress sought to avoid by prohibiting unsolicited fax advertisements. An online fax service does not shift the costs of advertising to the recipient of the fax (who pays for the paper and ink used to print the fax), nor does an online fax service get “tied up” by incoming faxes.

The FCC reached this ruling by engaging in a strict reading of the text of the TCPA and by examining congressional intent, as ABA had urged in its comment letter on Amerifactors’ petition. ABA has advocated that the FCC take this approach to examining the key unresolved TCPA issues, particularly which equipment is subject to the TCPA’s definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (autodialer). Read the declaratory ruling. Read ABA’s comment letter. For more information, contact ABA’s Jonathan Thessin.

View the Declaratory Ruling View ABA's Comment Letter